A guest post to motivate, encourage and inspire…
Why I Love Rejections
It took all of my daughter’s first year for me to start feeling like a person separate from her. A child’s independence comes in a series of small rejections — first the breast, then help with a spoon, then she’s waving bye-bye to Mama within five minutes of meeting her new babysitter. I didn’t take any of her choices personally; I was proud each time she took a step forward, even if it was literally or figuratively a step away from me. These were signs of us moving toward what was best for us both — more independence, more opportunities for new experiences.
Soon after her first birthday, I was ready to divert some attention into my professional writing goals. I aimed small, my mind still tender from a year of chaotic new motherhood: finish one essay in a month, identify some markets for it, and then celebrate any response, positive or negative. I needed to develop a certain mindset to boldly toss my words out into the world and not become discouraged by rejection.
Yes, an acceptance is always preferable and is the real goal, but rejections are also a valid measure of success. After a few months of steadily sending out submissions, the rejections rolled in. In the first four months, I sold seven essays, but my submissions were rejected 21 times. An addictive little thrill accompanies every response from an editor. Every rejection means someone is reading; my work and I are one step closer to a connection, we are making progress.
Anticipation. Like the weeks I watched my little one come steadily to her feet, my heart pleading, “WALK!” All I could do was guide, encourage, exercise patience.
In both the work of writing and the work of parenting, trying more equals succeeding more. After many, many small failures, that is. This new lifestyle is teaching me the value in failure. It is also teaching me that rejection of my work — the small failures leading up to a big success — do not define me or the essence of my work.
I keep these thoughts in mind when insecurity creeps in and rejections, comments or criticisms threaten to color what I believe about myself, my work, my parenting.
I know the danger of hubris, but I also appreciate the value of confidence. So far, after each rejection, I still look at my work and think, “This is good.” I believe the messages saying, “We enjoyed reading your work, but it’s not a good fit for us.” And I move on to the next potential market.
That first essay I wrote months ago has still not found a home. I’ve pitched it to at least five websites and publications, but it hasn’t landed yet. Still, it is my dear surrogate baby, representing the chances I took to begin this phase blending motherhood and writing life.
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