It’s funny. Although I can think of — and regale you with — endless tales of the rejection I’ve endured, most of it hasn’t come in the form of letters. No, rejection for me has always come in the form of deafening, endless silence. No news is always bad news, in my experience. This, I think, is a good thing.
From the jobs I’ve interviewed for (back before I managed to work out this scam called professional writer-dom that entails not having to actually report to work anywhere) to the magazines where I’ve submitted pieces to the publishing houses that passed on my book, the rejection I’ve faced has at times felt so insurmountable that “‘ll show them” might as well be tattooed on my forehead. Still, I’ve never uttered those words while clutching a tear-drenched, crumpled missive.
In my better moments, I know that rejection is just the universe’s way of saying “not right now.” Some wise people I know go so far as to say that “rejection is God’s protection,” because they believe that whatever that thing is that we so desperately want at the time simply isn’t right for us and we’re too stuck in our perception and desires to see that. And almost all of the truly successful people I know — the writers, anyway — are the ones who continually brush off their rejections and brace themselves for another fight back there into the ring.
When I was a freelance magazine writer, I got fairly good at this — probably because without that kind of tenacity, I’m fairly certain I would have starved. At one point during this period, I became obsessed with writing for Details, deciding that it was the only publication that covered what I found interesting with the right tone. The problem was that every time I sent them my clips, I received rejection in the form of silence. Then, one day, after about the sixth time I sent my clips, I got an email from the managing editor, asking me if I wanted to write something. And I wrote for them for years, until i moved on to another obsession — namely, writing a novel — and forgot all about how much I’d sworn that as long as I got to write for Details, my life would be eternally complete.
I wish I could say the rejections have diminished as the years have passed, but that’s simply not the case. I’d also like to state that I’ve gotten better at handling them, but I fear that’s not truthful, either. I think that I fantasize that I’ll one day get everything I want, but even if I reach mammoth levels of success, I know myself and thus feel certain I’ll never see it that way.
The one thing I remain pretty content with is the fact that my rejection still doesn’t come in the form of letters. After all, it’s far easier to pretend something didn’t happen — and thus try and get right back on the horse again — if you never had to see that you once didn’t get it staring back at you in black and white.