Okay, I might have oversold it a bit at the title. But here’s what I’m about today: I’m shoulder-deep into a book called DARING GREATLY by Brené Brown, whom you’ve surely heard about from her lovely Ted talk about vulnerability or from your friend in Chicago who gives good book recommendations or from Oprah because am pretty sure Oprah is into this lady too. The thrust of this book is not news to anyone: To get rewards, you gotta take risks.
Alas, my summing up thusly did not save you reading 300 pages of sometimes anecdotal self-help–you still gotta read it. Or, at least, I think you do if you’re anything like me. That is to say, if you are a writer, or a mother, or a person with real human feelings and not a robot. If you don’t like rejection, and you shouldn’t, because it is freakin’ rejection, I like this book for you.
The thing is, writers have two great enemies: that weird butt spread you get from sitting too much, and rejection*. A standing desk might help for the first but for the second there is no beating it.
But maybe there are a few ways to make it less powerful.
Here’s what Ms. Brown and her book have made me think about lately: You know that thing where you get a email or a phone call or telegram from someone you’ve been waiting to hear from, and you panic and don’t open it/pick up the phone/turn on your wayback machine? I know this is not just me because I have placed a few “the calls” in my day and one time an author told me she let me go to voicemail because the New York area code on her caller ID made her vomit. That, my friends, is anticipated rejection, and we all do it before the rejection comes. We play with how it will feel and try to get super comfortable with it and sometimes we don’t even need to send out a query letter because we already know exactly what the pass letters will feel like in our minds and it is so bad that it’s not worth it.
The rejection, when it inevitably comes, does not feel as bad as all the practice. Actually, to me it feels a little better because then the bad feelings have a cause that isn’t total craziness. The practicing works in that it somewhat softens the rejection by comparison, but it is completely counterproductive in that it multiplies the amount of rejections you have to experience before any given success you might be seeking comes your way. And worse, it makes it hard to be joyful when rejection doesn’t come–because you are in the habit of seeing rejection around every corner! It must be stopped!
So here’s my authorly experiment for all y’all who are reading this and are thinking of putting something new out there in whichever form it might take. Can you dare to not practice the next rejection you might be anticipating? Can you dare to think, while you’re producing your next project or writing your next query or I don’t know, getting ready for your debut launch, that you will be a huge success? Or at least not a failure? Can you be brave enough to set yourself up to be blindsided by rejection?
I dunno, but I am trying it. I think if you can pull it off, the rejection will feel just as painful when it comes, and sometimes it will come. But there will be less of it in your life as a whole. And when you are accepted–and that will happen too, sure as the rejection–you will be practiced and ready.
*Oh yeah, and digital piracy. But I’ll think about that tomorrow. Fiddle dee dee.