Monday, February 8, 2010

The Rejection Muscle

I recently remarked to a friend that I had become inured to rejection. I claimed it didn't hurt anymore.

She remarked that it was either a good thing, because it meant any rejection I received wouldn't hurt me, or a bad thing, because it meant to reach this state, I'd probably been rejected a lot.

Both of us were reasonably correct.

I did lie a little bit when I said it didn't hurt anymore. (Yes, my bravado strikes again.) Rejection still hurts a bit, and sometimes, when rejection blocks me from something I really wanted, the ice cream I've been denying myself starts to look really good. But, on the other hand, it doesn't hurt nearly as much as it used to.

I have been rejected a lot. It's one of those things that happens when you're interested in theater and cannot act well, or you want a higher level position than you've previously worked, but don't have as many skills as others in the same field. Or, you know, when you attempt to publish a novel that's nowhere near ready, because your a publishing-world neophyte with an insatiable urge to act like a total noob.

But, I don't like to think of myself as much-rejected. I prefer to think of myself as possessing a highly toned muscle. A rejection muscle.

Getting rejected, especially if it's something you really want or is really important to you, often feels, in my humble opinion, rather like a sucker punch. Or, you know, a general beating in some slightly less specified capacity. But, then again, so does a hard core work out. It hurts, sometimes a lot, but it'll make you stronger for the next time around.

Hone the muscle with continued use (and we've all selected an industry where this muscle gets continued use) and exercising it won't hurt so much anymore. In any function.

How do you feel about rejection? Do you think it gets easier to handle with time?


  1. After I queried as a newbie last year and the rejections poured in, I wept for months, put the book under the bed, and decided this was a stupid thing for me to do. However, after reading many, many blogs and going through the same experiences many other writers shared, I felt sort of redeemed. I wasn't the only one.

    Now, I feel, with this second query session, that I've made my book better, my query better, and my rejection muscle more taut. I know I'll get rejected, but I also have hope that someone will like it and request something from it.

    You can only grow, either up or out, from rejection, if not, it's your loss. If you let it defeat you, there's no use continuing on the path to become published.

  2. I agree with PW -- and every experience, rejection or acceptance, comes with valuable lessons. The publishing road is long, but the lessons make each step worthwhile. Best of luck with it!!

  3. I'm going to start querying next week and know my rejection muscle is going to have to get stronger. But at some point, some agent and then some editor will want my book!

  4. I totally still get hurt by rejection. And I've been through a lot of them too. I think my muscle is strong, but you know, sometimes it still aches when I see that email.

  5. Oh, I'm a wuss, to be sure. I'm trying to toughen up some but I still have my moments of ice cream indulgence. ;)

  6. Piedmont -- We shall persevere! :) Good luck with your latest round of queries.

    Nicole -- Thanks. I agree that every rejection can be a learning experience.

    Stephanie -- I admire your optimism and your dedication.

    Elana -- A bit of an ache isn't such a bad thing. I think we all feel a bit of hurt in the rejection. The important this is to power through, which I think you are very capable of doing.

    L.T. Elliot -- I'd hardly be a person to insult an ice cream indulgence. The toughening is a process. Just remember, rejection is a growing experience.

  7. Good question! I think rejection doesn't ever get any easier, but we deal with it better. I haven't really been in the query trenches yet, so I don't know how I'm going to handle at that.

  8. Glamis -- Well, when you first foray into the trenches, just remember that it gets easier with time, no matter what it feels like at first.