I’ve been thinking about rejection a lot lately for two reasons. First is that it was a pre-determined topic for discussion amongst us Cringers, each knowing a potential place in the Hardcopy Professional Development Program ‘Round 2 – Going Public’ was on the cards. Thirty writers. Ten places up for grabs. Second, if rejection came my way, how would I cope with, process and survive the experience?
For a long time, as I mulled on this topic (see – even now I’m distancing myself from the word, the concept, the reality)…
< Stop >
< Start again >
For a long time as I dwelled on what rejection is and what it is to be rejected, I attempted to hide my true feelings in metaphors, anecdotes, analogies.
Each resulted in a watered-down effort, underpinned by an unconscious aim to deflect shame from myself and from my work.
And after all this time, one truth remains: I cannot run from this. I cannot hide from it.
So, nervously, I stand here before you, a man rejected and owning it.
And here’s where I’m at right now, because I am by no means through the end of this experience yet and still need space and time to work it all out.
Can I start by asking, what’s your position on rejection?
Mine is clear – in a perfect world, I’m always looking back at it. That’s the best place to see rejection – in the past, as something that’s happened, an experience had and now, thankfully, left behind.
To embark on an endeavour and know that rejection may be one of the obstacles in your way is all well and good. But if I truly believed that rejection was going to come my way as I set out on any creative journey or passionate undertaking, I’d never have taken that first step.
So I ignore it, knowing that what I’m doing will surely resonate and find an audience. The quality and depth of my work will be evident to all who come across it. I pay lip service to rejection. ‘Yes I know this journey is long and hard and unforgiving at times,’ is what I say, but my inner voice speaks differently. And right at this moment alignment between the expectation of my outer and inner narratives diverge. I say reasonable things, talk about humility and modesty. It’s all for show.
That’s why the worst place to be is facing front onto to rejection right before it hits you.
Blinkered peripheral vision and rose-tinted glasses on, I never see it coming. I believe I’m immune, that there’s something about me, about my work, that separates me from everyone else.
You already know what comes next, right?
Rejection. Full-on and in my face.
Something that means the world to me wasn’t recognised as a project worthy to progress further along the development program I’ve been on. And now that path ends and I’m left to find new avenues for exploration and advancement.
As modest and humble as I’d like to be, I didn’t see it coming. I knew it was a possibility, well, no, really, I didn’t. It was a word, a connotation, something reflecting a deficiency present in others but not me.
And then it careened at breakneck speed into the middle of my life.
So, yes, looking back on rejection is always the preferable place to be. But I’m not there yet. It’s still close. It still stings and I still struggle between acceptance and bitterness.
I’m okay though. I’m still writing. I feel truckloads of passion for my novel and this setback hasn’t set me back too much at all.