How does one deal with rejection as a writer?
Of course you can learn lessons and you will learn lessons but that does not mean that success will come.
The simple reality is that success and talent are not synonymous and never have been. Good and great writing gets rejected and bad writing gets accepted. It has ever been so.
Many of those writers which are now called ‘great’ were rejected for years; many were not published until after they were dead. In a hoax a few years ago submissions using the work of some great writers were sent to agents and publishers and all were rejected. Can you imagine James Joyce and Ulysses even getting a look-in these days when the fashion is for ‘shopping list’ writing? He was serially and seriously rejected in his time until someone actually recognised brilliance but today he would be unlikely to be accepted by anyone.
Which raises the other issues which relate to whether or not one is rejected or accepted and first on the list is, taste, or ‘fashion.’ With the death and dearth of brave and brilliant literary agents and publishers – although the developments online are helping improve this situation – it is the market which drives decisions. In other words, what the agents and publishers believe will sell is what matters, not the quality of the writing.
So your writing may be utterly brilliant, but not to the ‘taste’ of agents, publishers and the market at this point in time. Rejections will push many to make a decision as to whether or not they continue to write in their own unique and distinct way, no matter if they are never accepted, or whether they will try to change their style to ‘suit’ the fashion. The latter choice will not gaurantee acceptance either. Which brings me to the other factor at work and that is fate.
Returning to the stark reality that success and talent are not synonymous, and never have been, in any field, takes one to the issue of fate, destiny and plain old dumb luck. There are countless brilliant writers, poets, singers, artists, lawyers, architects – pick a profession or creative skill – out there who will never succeed. There are some who will, alongside lots of mediocre if not incompetent others.
So while there may be valuable lessons to learn which may bring acceptance and success for some, for most there will not. And the only lesson left is to enjoy what you do, speak in your own true voice, gain satisfaction from your creative expression and leave the rest to fate.
Anyone who is called to write and in it for the long haul of being rejected in the main for decades needs to reach a place of acceptance and dedication to the writing art for itself.
It is not easy to write without the encouragement of acceptance and publication. It is like spending days preparing a fabulous meal and having no-one eat but never telling you why. Too hot, too cold, too salty, too foreign, too plain, too rich ….. It takes enormous courage and dedication to write without the support of acceptance and in the face of constant rejection and writing is perhaps unique in that all that effort can be for virtually nothing in any real sense.
You can self-publish and put it on a shelf, sure, but even with a painting, sculpture and other creative arts, you can give your work away, hang it on the wall, put it on a shelf and have it receive an occasional admiring look – not so with books of prose or poetry. They must be picked up and read. My hat goes off to and my heart goes out to writers who write for their soul, with no acceptance and the possibility they will never get it.
At the end of your life, the quality of your creative expression will not be important, no matter how much of a success or failure society might deem you to be; who you were, are and how you lived your life as a person first and writer second will be what matters, to you and to everyone else you touched.