Rejection can be hard to take sometimes – especially if it comes on the heels of having invested a lot of time, energy, and resources on a project or an issue of personal meaning. My wife and I are huge fans of the reality cooking competition Top Chef, and I’m always struck by how hard the chefs take it when they are eliminated after creating a bad dish. Hey, it’s just a plate of food after all, so why be so upset and disappointed if a judge thought it had too much paprika?
Before I began my foray into the world of writing, I couldn’t quite relate to the losing chefs. Now, that’s changed. When you commit yourself to making or creating something, something that is yours and yours alone, it becomes so personal it’s practically an extension of yourself. Rejection of it can easily be interpreted as a rejection of the person behind it.
Let’s face it – nobody likes to swing and miss or come up empty. This week I’ve already endured rejection from some prospective literary agents. I’m disappointed to say the least. I’d done my homework on these agents. I knew their genres of interest, the material and authors they represented, their reputations with other authors, and I believed my manuscript aligned well with their preferences. Unfortunately, they didn’t feel the same. Now, I’m not going to weep, pack up my laptop, and sulk about it – although if this were reality TV I’d be tempted to do it just to whip up some fan support, but it did get me to thinking about two very important things: perseverance and perspective.
Recently, I read an interview with Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help. Ms. Stockett revealed that she’d endured more than 60 rejections over five years before an agent finally offered her representation. Now, that’s perseverance! In the face of constant rejection, she continued to labor and believe in her story. Goals aren’t achieved by quitting. They’re realized only by finishing the race and completing what we set out to do.
It’s also easy to throw in the towel if the odds are perceived to be insurmountable. Everyone else quit when they viewed Goliath as too big to kill. David charged ahead, viewing him too big to miss. A healthy perspective keeps our vision clear and puts things in their proper focus. The literary world may be pretty daunting and overwhelming, but it’s not too big that it doesn’t have room for me.