Tag Archives: rejection

Lessons in Rejection

My heart has been breaking all summer. Over problems no parent can solve. About my inability to protect my children — from hurt feelings, from being excluded, frompintip the agony of rejection.

“I’d rather get a hundred rejections than have my child go through this,” I thought.

The sacrifice of a mother? Sure. But being a seasoned veteran of rejection, I also felt I was better equipped to deal with the pain.

After all, I’ve had LOTS of experience with rejection as a writer. And I’ve learned a ton. For example:

1. I learned to temper my expectations. Seven-figure deals, international book tours, movie adaptations — I’ve dreamed them all. But they didn’t happen, and they didn’t happen quickly. And so, my dreams are different now. Simpler. And they motivate me just as much. A career as a writer. My book on a shelf. Spending my days doing what I love most.

2. I learned that rejection gets easier over time. The very first rejection — whether it is the first one ever or the first on a particular submission — is always the hardest, at least for me. I don’t have the world’s thickest skin, but after years in this industry, I’ve had no choice but to toughen up. These days, I (mostly) react to rejection by shrugging and redoubling my efforts on the next book.

3. I learned to see the silver lining in every cloud. Most things are not all bad. In every rejection, we can find something positive to take away. A lesson about craft, perhaps, or information about the market. Maybe even a compliment on which we can focus. In the midst of the overall message – “NO” – these compliment can easily get lost. But as with anything else, the skill of honing in on the positive part, while ignoring the rest of the noise, improves with practice.

4. I learned to have confidence in myself. Writing is so subjective that it is impossible to please everybody. We can’t depend on external sources for validation (even though they are nice to have!) It’s not easy — this believing-in-yourself business. But when you’re faced with the decision of quitting or persevering, and you choose the latter time and time again, you develop that inner core. I’m not saying I’ve perfected the art, but I’m so much better at it today than I was a few years ago. I wouldn’t be here otherwise.

5. I learned why I’m really doing this. It’s not for the money or the recognition. Certainly not because it’s an easy career path. I write because I love it. Because I have stories to tell. Because I feel closest to my true self in my words.

I’ve learned all this and more by being rejected. And so maybe I shouldn’t try to shelter my children from the pain, after all. Maybe the disappointments of today are exactly what they need to prepare themselves for the bigger obstacles of tomorrow.

That doesn’t mean my heart won’t break when my child buries her face in my chest, and her tears soak through my shirt to scorch my skin. But maybe there’s a lesson in that, too.

Please share. What has rejection taught you? What makes your heart break?

Lessons from the Playground

Recently, when I went to pick up my children from school, my five-year-old daughter burst out of the classroom, leaped into my arms, and buried her face in my neck. When I asked her what was wrong, she said her best friend had told her, “I don’t like you anymore.”

Wow. It’s hard enough to hear this kind of sentiment as an adult. But for a sensitive five-year-old who has never experienced rejection? Devastating.

I’m happy to say it all blew over. After a little investigation and instruction from the moms, apologies were said, the girls hugged, and now they’re friends again.

Afterwards, my daughter and I came home and had a long talk. About friendships and strategies and coping mechanisms. And what struck me the most about this conversation was how wise I sounded. How, coming from an adult perspective, I could so clearly see the “right” solution to my child’s problems.

At the same time, I recognized I was being something of a hypocrite. Because, you see, the lessons I was trying to teach my daughter are the very ones with which I’ve been struggling.

Here are some of the things my daughter and I discussed:

1. You shouldn’t want to play with someone who doesn’t want to play with you.

So simple, right? So true. But if that’s the case, then why does rejection hurt so much? Whether it’s by an agent or an editor, a loved interest or a friend, rejection sucks. Big time. But it shouldn’t. Instead, we should just see the pass as information gained and move on with our lives.

For example, writers look for a literary agent in order to find an effective advocate for their work. If an agent does not love your work, then he/she, by definition, will not be an effective advocate. So you shouldn’t want to work with an agent who doesn’t want to work with you. Right? So simple. So true. And so much easier said than done.

2. If someone is mean to you, walk away.

It is so easy to get caught up in other people’s drama. To get drawn into an argument, to retaliate to their hurtful behavior. When the truth is, it is so much simpler to step away and focus on your own work, your own interests, your own family. I may have given this advice to my daughter as if it were truth, but it is something which I constantly have to remind myself.

3. If you want to have a friend, then you have to act like a friend.

I think we all learned this friendship adage a long time ago. I know I did. And yet, I am still learning the corollary: If you want to be a writer, then you have to act like a writer. That means, working on my manuscript, whether or not the muse strikes. It means being willing to do the hard stuff, the parts I may not particularly enjoy but that need to get done. It means getting up to write another day, no matter what blows have been dealt the day before.

4. Just because your friend wants to play with somebody else doesn’t mean she likes you any less.

This, perhaps, was the hardest truth for my daughter to swallow. In her mind, preference for another friend automatically equals rejection of her. As adults, we know better. Or do we? If the writing corollary were true (someone else’s success has no bearing on our own), then why, in the midst of our sincere excitement, do we feel that tiny twinge of, well, rejection when we hear another person’s good news? I honestly don’t know.

Maybe it’s human nature. Maybe it’s because our hearts and heads don’t always align. Or maybe these lessons from the playground are just ones that we continue to learn, every single day.

What do you think? What lessons do you continue to learn as an adult? Why is it so hard for our heart to follow what our minds know to be “true”? What is harder– dealing with friendship drama as a child, or having your dreams rejected as an adult?

Look Ma! I have a process!

I was torn about what to write about today. Life has been crazy for me lately and I’ve not had a lot of time to think about blogging here today.

Now, the stuff I’ve been doing is the fun stuff:  incorporating myself as a writing business, signing my contract with Entangled, getting new headshots taken (see one to the right), and filling out the cover art fact sheet for my book (my favorite question was the one that asked what I didn’t want on my book cover.  (The first thing that came to mind was, “cowboys, babies, and the Cialis bathtubs”)

I also received a rejection. Not fun. But after a one-night pity party with the Mermaids, I got back up on Seabiscuit and got to work. I sent that manuscript to another publisher and now I wait.

And the EDJ (evil day job) . . .  let’s not go there.  In fact, I don’t want to go there right now. Again, working through some stuff which will likely work out but it’s a pain getting there.

But, even with all this stuff needing to get done the thing I was struggling with was writing.  And, it was driving me crazy! See, I decided that I needed to change how I did this writing thing.


Not.  A. Clue.

So, I decided to monkey with the system and do it differently. Change it up. Get jiggy with it.

And, I couldn’t get it done. Couldn’t make progress. Nothing.

So, in a moment of brilliance I trashed everything I had done and went back to the tried a true.  I wrote my bulletized plot outline. I started on page one instead of in the middle. And . . . voila! . . . I was writing!

So, what’s the moral of that story?

Don’t mess with what’s working.  There is no set way to write a book. No right way. No wrong way

Just my way.

What’s yours?







UPDATE: Since so many people commented on my boots. Here they are up close. I love them . . .