Every writer knows rejection well, and in my career, I’ve certainly seen plenty of it: a.) the magazine editor who turned down a story I was really excited about on the basis that there were three typos in my pitch (oops, and ouch!); the big fat no I got when an agent who read my first novel (which didn’t sell, thank goodness for that) declared that I needed to rewrite it in third person, consider making the characters teenagers and transforming it into a young adult book (when it was very clearly women’s fiction); or the book editor who described one of my early stabs at fiction “pedestrian.”
Some of these rejections linger in my mind, but here’s the very strange thing about me: most don’t. Most vanish, in fact, minutes, hours, weeks, after the dagger sinks in. Oddly, over the years I’ve developed a strange coping mechanism that is both useful and not. While some people remember rejection and can even recite the negative comments they’ve gotten from a friend, a boss, anyone–my mind zaps them … dead.
I have no idea why this is the case, and I suspect that a good shrink could analyze the heck out of me (maybe this is my mind’s way of coping with trauma?). But I’ve learned that, for whatever reason, my brain would rather forget than to ruminate over bad memories. Psychologists, if you’re reading, feel free to diagnose me!
My husband thinks this is an awfully hilarious and strange quality, given that he has to remind not to go down the same paths that have previously brought negativity, rejection, and anxiety (because, well, I’ve forgotten them!). But, I think my thick skin amnesia will serve me well when my book, The Violets of March, comes out in May and I suddenly have to deal with all kinds of opinions, reviews, and yes, rejection. At least my mind will know how to cope, right?
Do you tend to hang on to rejections/insults/negativity and stew on them for a long time, or do you cope by forgetting, quickly, and letting go?