Saturday, February 5, 2011

Rejection: a fact of life

There are things we have to do in life and things we have to experience in life.  In order to survive we have to breathe, drink, eat, sleep and shelter from the elements.  As we develop emotionally and psychologically we experience a wide range of emotions, navigate relationships and ourselves.  To a greater or lesser degree we can control our emotions, avoid relationships and avoid experiences.  But there is one area of experience that we cannot avoid…that ever perennial problem of life; rejection.

            We have all been rejected to a greater or lesser degree.  Even if you are a hermit living on an island with no one else around you or living an entirely solipsistic existence then you are experiencing it because you have rejected a life of interaction. Most of us choose to ignore the thorny issue of rejection or we sideline it.  Rejection hurts but it is an integral part of life. We can allow the experience of rejection to either make us give up and live in our own isolated island, or drives us to keep trying again and again and again. I know because in the past seven days I have been rejected twice.
             The first rejection was someone whom I loved very deeply and had parted from only to reunite again...albeit briefly.  I can wail and cry on my bed ad finitum or I can dust myself down, take stock, draw from the lessons and go out there with an open heart and try again. A very wise friend of mine gave me some wonderful advice. He said we can give our love to someone else but there is no guarantee that they will love us back. I said that it is so unfair. He agreed but said we must live with ourselves first, that we must keep our integrity, our principles. He is right. So I will go on trying, go out there with an open heart whilst retaining my integrity.
            The second rejection was my novel. I cried when I got the thank you but no thank you e-mail. I have two choices. I can either give up or keep going. Every writer who receives a rejection goes through the agony of ‘am I crap writer?’, ‘is my work that bad?” or the awful ‘I’ll never get published, I may as well give up,'. I was plagued with those thoughts and that I may be suffering from the x-factor syndrome; you know the type, they believe they are brilliant, destined for stardom whilst the rest of us cover our ears, squirm in our seats and shout at the telly saying no, no, no!
           Am I deluded as well? I believe the answer is no. The deluded do not ask themselves that question. Most great authors have experienced the sting of rejection and so must I. I could give up but guess what will happen…nothing!  So I will send my book out there again with the caveat that if enough people say no to the novel, well then it is back to the drawing board to try a different book. There is no other option unless you want nothing.
           Rejection, oddly enough can be a good thing, a powerful thing. It drives you to keep going, to never give up. So I will close with a link to a speech that J.K Rowling gave to a group of Harvard University students. This hugely successful author who has exceeded way beyond her own or anyone else’s expectations chose the very apt topic entitled “The benefits of failure". 

© The Bag lady February 2011

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