Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dealing With Rejection

by Kristine Coblitz

I recently wrote an article for a local magazine about kids and tryouts. The article explored the unusual rise in the number of students participating in sports and school activities and questioned if the reason for this increase is because more kids are interested or because coaches and teachers have a difficult time turning kids away in fear of how rejection will influence their self esteem.

I didn’t get a definitive answer to my question, but I did get some positive feedback about the importance of rejection for teenagers. In writing the article, I wondered about how this advice could apply to writers and how rejection from agents, editors and readers influences self-esteem. Are the feelings that teenagers experience when cut from the soccer team or school musical really any different from what we as adult writers feel when we get a rejection letter to our query letter or when our novel isn’t picked up by a publishing house?

Rejection is a part of life. We can’t change or control it. What we can change, however, is our reaction to rejection. How we deal with it says a lot about who we are.

I like to think I’ve matured a bit in how I deal with rejection. In the beginning of my writing career, I took every form rejection letter to heart. They were blows to my ego. Now, I’ve become a bit wiser (thankfully) in my perception of the publishing business and take them all in stride.

So what did the coaches and teachers have to say when I asked them about rejection? They told me it’s all part of the journey and that you can’t have success without experiencing at least a few setbacks along the way. They also told me that you can’t expect confidence to come from another person. It comes from accepting the person you really are, being okay with your skills and abilities, and having the drive to become even better.

For some of us, the journey never ends.

12 comments:

Gina said...

Who wrote this??

Kristine said...

((waving hand))

It's me. I forgot to put my byline and link.

Joyce said...

Rejection is something I've learned to live with. Every one makes me more determined to succeed.

I just read an article about how parents are interfering in their childrens' lives to prevent them from experiencing rejection. Apparently, job interviewers are having a huge problem with the parents of the young people they interview for jobs. Some parents are not only accompanying their college grad offspring on job interviews, they are going as far as threatening recruiters when their children aren't hired!

I think rejection can be healthy at times. The above job hunters and their parents will never know the joy that finally comes with acceptance.

Nancy said...

Great post, Kristine! And funny how the rejection keeps coming all your life--not just for kids. Seems it's even more character-building as we get older. I can't wait for our resident psychologist to weigh in on this topic.

Kristine said...

Joyce: That's unbelievable about parents accompanying their children to job interviews. Yikes!

Meryl Neiman said...

Great post, Kristine. I'm okay with the rejection. I think my bigger problem is with validation. Without having something to show for my efforts (a book on a shelf) how to justify myself? Am I any different from those rich moms who lunch (except for the rich part and the lunch part)?

Joyce said...

Meryl, you don't need to justify yourself. Someday you'll see that book on the shelf, and in the meantime, you have the most important job of all: being with your children.

Kristine said...

Well said, Joyce.

I agree with you, Meryl. Obtaining justification (even if just within ourselves) can sometimes be just as difficult as dealing with rejection letters. The answer, I guess, is to keep the faith by doing the best we can and developing our craft. The rest is really out of our hands, anyway.

Tory said...

I just talked today to a client of mine in art school dealing with her first critique. It reminded me of graduate school and how many of our women's support group got upset over comments on our papers, proposals, etc.. I think I'm a lot better now at taking comments than I used to be, and the only way to get there is through practice.

I now usually keep in mind that criticisms can more helpful than praise. And if they aren't, I'm better able to realize that everyone has bad days and pet peeves and not to take them too personally.

Rebecca Drake said...

Apparently Stephen King tacked all his rejection letters above his desk for inspiration. For him they symbolized that he was getting his work out there.

Of course he was a teenager. I think rejection can actually get harder as we get older because we don't see the world or the time we have to explore it as limitless.

Cathy said...

Always a potent subject for us writers. I found that internet dating and submitting to agents had some similarities--both involve considerable rejection and both are highly flakey. So I try to take it all lightly, except the match.com did pay off (with Alan). One out of two isn't bad.

kathie said...

Rejection is a must in childhood. How else will kids learn to try, try, again? Getting rejections from agents and editors stings beyond belief, but I never consider giving up. If you don't learn that as a kid, I think you do just give up. But, at this point, I think I've had enough rejection work and am ready for "yes, Kathie, we love your work as it stands and here's your contract, book cover and date of publication." Yes, I could use a little of that about now.