There are writers out there who wax elegantly about the subject of rejection, such as my lovely Novel Incubator instructor, Lisa Borders, in her wonderful post.
Elegance is not my forte. And positivity quotes are positively the least helpful thing in this situation. Those go-get-em-tiger platitudes all amount to the same thing: Better luck next time!
What if there is no next time? I could die TOMORROW.
Repression, as far as I can tell, is only good for so many things. For other things, there’s acceptance and an allowance of time to feel sorry for oneself. Typically, I give myself one day and break out my grab bag of rituals to while away the hours of suckitude.
Dance Party, USA (population: 1)
In the 4th grade, I was consumed by the desire to become a world-famous choreographer at the caliber of Paula Abdul (I did not have a cultured upbringing) and created elaborate dance routines in the elementary school playground with similarly afflicted schoolmates. We forced others to watch. Sometimes the audience booed but more often we were met with confused looks by boys and snarls from girls in Guess jeans who thought they were better than us.* That experience served me well as a writer. Not only did I become acclimated to the blank stares of a disinterested audience–and sometimes harsh reviews–I learned that there’s nothing like a hair-flying, torso twirling, fists in the air dance session of audio confidence to get the adrenaline pumping in and the suck flowing out of your system.
My current “dance it off” song obsession is Closer by Tegan and Sara. Pro tip: The stupider you look dancing, the better the results.
PJ Harvey is Not for Everyone
PJ Harvey is a Rock God, strange and dark and inconsistent. One album, she’s screaming at you. The next, she’s a chanteuse, luring you into her web. It’s almost like living at home again with an alcoholic mother. Though she is critically acclaimed, PJ is not for everyone.
When you’ve been writing long and hard enough and start to submit your work either to a classroom full of other writers or to journals and contests or conferences, you come up against a lot of people telling you (mostly in passive-aggressive or veiled terms) you’re shit. You might be. But you might not be.
It doesn’t matter whether I’m a shit writer or not. What matters is that I have the confidence (sometimes, usually, depends on the day) to believe that maybe I’m not a shit writer. Maybe I’m not for everyone, either.
And if my novel is ever completed and ever published, I will honor PJ Harvey’s influence in my life by wearing a red satin dress and a long black wig.**
Cupcakes Make Everything Better. They JUST Do.
Typically, you would buy a cupcake after the rejection. But in some instances, when you know the day or week that the notifications are sent, you might want to go ahead and buy yourself an anticipatory cupcake. No matter if you’re accepted or rejected: you win. Cupcakes!
Dude, You Barely Exist
As popularized (to me, in my pop-culture lifetime) by Space God Neil deGrasse Tyson on Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, human beings were born on Dec 31, last day of the cosmic calendar.
If the scope of that is too big to even comprehend, consider these average life spans (according to a not at all well-researched Google search):
- Fruit flies = 40 to 50 days
- Queen Bees = 3 years
- Bob Ford (not a child, my Maine Coon cat) = 12.5 years
- Cottonmouths (snakes) = 21 years
- Camels = 50 years
- A human being in the United States = 79.56 years (that number is from the CIA, so who knows where they get their information)
Barring acts of God or war or radioactive contamination, there are so few days left in your life according to Google and Astrophysicists. You’re gonna let a little rejection notice make you feel bad for more than one day? Really?
The message to myself (because I would never be so rude as to tell you, dear reader) is this: Get over yourself. And get back to work… right after this dance interlude.
* They weren’t.
** LOL, guys. J/K. I have hips.