Rejection sucks. As a writer, we're told we're supposed to toughen up and have a thick skin, but the reality is that never stops sucking. No matter how many articles are in my portfolio or how many published books are on my resume, I still cringe at the idea of being judged and dismissed. It's human nature.
Today I searched through all of my files looking for something I'd printed out years ago. I knew it was there and needed to find it. I moved my office not too long ago so now my shelves are split between two rooms--chaos, in other words. After spreading out all of my file folders and journals, I stumbled upon a rejection letter I received from a major publishing house back in 2002. For some reason I don't remember, I had it laminated! A lot has happened in my life since then so I don't remember why I would have done something like that, but that's not the point. I read that letter regarding a book of mine that's now published--by a different publisher--and looked at the criticism.
This editor had gone into great detail about the faults of the story. I started thinking about why that didn't stop me. Riptide--the romantic suspense novel that had been so unceremoniously destroyed by this woman--is one of my bestselling novels, well-received by readers and critics alike. But what kept me from quitting? Why didn't I say, "oh, well, I guess this writing career isn't for me" and quit right then? Believe me, that letter was one of many--but, for some reason, I'd laminated it.
As I thought about it, I started thinking about rejection as a whole concept. What makes us keep going after a lover chooses someone else? What makes us trust again when a friend abandons or betrays us? What makes some people fight through the darkness and causes others to give up?
I sat there for a long time looking at that letter and trying to remember that time in my life while questions swirled through my mind. What made me keep trying and failing again and again?
I wish I could say 'hope', but that's too trite and not at all informative.
I think it has more to do with loving ourselves, with being connected with our purpose, with believing in ourselves enough to keep getting up again and again despite the odds, and a willingness to learn, adapt and do whatever it takes to succeed.
Perseverance, yes. Stubborness, yes. Focus, most definitely. Ambition, wholeheartedly.
I knew that Riptide had the potential to be great so kept on revising and submitting until a publisher finally said yes. Reading that editor's criticism now reminds me of how far I've come. Some of what she wrote no longer makes sense for the published novel so I squinted a lot trying to remember the version she'd read. I couldn't. It doesn't matter.
It doesn't matter now and it didn't matter then. Not in the big scheme. Sure, it probably disappointed me, but it didn't stop me. It was just a moment in time--a speedbump--and that's what all rejections are. They are simply saying, "this isn't for you right now" and steering you in another direction.
Whether it's the lover who says, "I want someone/something else" or a friend who simply drifts away, rejection can be a blessing even if it hurts like hell in the moment. It's life's way of pointing you toward the path that's right for you. As with the rejection from the publisher, I worked harder, became better, and ended up with a novel I'm proud to have out in the world. With exes, there isn't one I'd want back! So you see? It all worked out.
Rejections are the Universe saying, "something better is waiting for you."
Rejection never stops sucking. However, don't allow them to stop you from loving yourself, believing in yourself, and embracing new people or opportunities that will inevitably cross your path.
As for the lamination...that remains a mystery to be solved another day.
Wishing you all green lights and easy days...
Amber Lea Easton
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com.