Dealing with rejection as a writer

How does one deal with rejection as a writer?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. Of course you can learn lessons and you will learn lessons but that does not mean that success will come.

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.

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.

About rosross

Editor, writer, poet.
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2 Responses to Dealing with rejection as a writer

  1. Perfect read for this day when i got rejected again, thank you for this

  2. artofchad says:

    I once had an argument with a German music producer about rejection as an artist. I was adamant that the motivation to paint was intrinsic and I didn’t care about the audience. He disagreed and said he had heard countless musicians say the same thing to protect their ego. Over the next few days, I reflected on what he said and had to agree with him. I did actually care about the audience. I wouldn’t say that the desires of the audience shaped what I created but I wanted my art to be seen to have value by others.

    It was a very positive revelation for me to accept. Firstly, it changed the way I thought about art and artists. Art is not a personal indulgence (despite how gratifying it is to create) but a kind of altruistic gift to the world and like all gifts, it is much better if they can be appreciated rather than tossed in the bin. Secondly, when I accepted the way that the need to protect my ego was shaping the way I was viewing things, I was also in a position to break the way it was a shackle upon me. Consequently, I started having solo exhibitions and accepting rejection as a possible consequence of that, but not letting rejection prevent me from persevering. In short, my acceptance of what I really wanted gave me the impetus to go out and pursue it irrespective of how many times I would stumble and fall on the way.

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