Easy. I’m not going to.
That question was the subject line of an email that taunted me from my inbox. At first I didn’t want to look at it. After the official launch of my first book, I was riding high on the positive waves of the newly published. There had been an amazingly well-attended party, the line graph on Author Central began shooting upward and there were great reviews -- three of ’em! I did not want to read about rejection in any form whatsoever. No sir. Not this girl. No way.
And then I gave in, because we writers are nothing if not our own saboteurs. I got a momentary reprieve: the link in the email led me to a collection of other articles about dealing with rejection. Still reeling from acceptance, I was hesitant to stick my toes back into the vat of rejection with which I am all too familiar. But morbid curiosity tugged at my willpower like a just-opened bag of peanut butter M&Ms. I figured there might be some good advice; why publish an article that would drive writers over the edge?
And, naturally, there was.
I have dealt with rejection, of course I have. Monumental when legions of agents and publishers turn away all my queries and minute when a friend looks me in the eye and says, “Hmmm...this isn’t quite right.” The amalgamation of advice in the list of articles was good and true. Most of it was the make-lemonade-from-lemons kind of advice that always infuriates me, but then later turns out to be just the thing I need. There is always something to be gained from accepting legitimate criticism. My very first review, albeit a positive one, also contained a disclaimer about the reader’s and my “political differences.” I was stunned. Why had I never anticipated this before? That someone might have largely differing points of view than mine which could, quite possibly, generate a negative response to my work? In my pre-publication world, I was lucky to be writing for a population who I could count on to endorse similar views, opinions, and outlooks as mine. Now that my work was “out there” for all the world (maybe) to read, there might be some backlash to my liberal, sometimes atypical, always idealistic views. Some people might not like me! (I just fainted.)
Criticism and rejection are all part of the deal when you put your insides into words, print them on paper, and offer them up for people to read--and possibly reject. Writers are the toughest thin-skinned people I know. I really don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel the sting of censure when they are putting forth their best work, only to have it be judged not “good enough.” And yet, we keep at it. Every day. All of our lives.
So, about that literary rejection? Yeah, I’m not dealing with it.
Not this week anyway.
What gives you the strength to keep what criticism you need and discard the rest? What strategies do you use?