Scaling the Rejection Summit

Rejection- I’ve now embraced it like my nom de plume. I acutely remember the pain of having to read the disappointing words appearing one after the other, and then fading out, as if the email from the latest publishing agent looked like some kind of menacing powerpoint presentation. But then, it wasn’t the first time. Yet, the nervous shocks and the twisting in my chest feels no different than the first time. Rejection teaches you a lot of lessons- it pushes you to strive harder, it makes you want to try and fail (even more), it makes you believe that you could do better (by some immeasurable standard- what is that standard, we’ll never know), it helps you pick yourself up. But, most of all, it gives you a feeling of unworthiness, a dissatisfaction of being yourself and what you enjoy doing. When I say I’m a writer, and I fail to get published once or another million more times, then my writing dissipates into the air akin to the world crumbling. It makes me think- “I can’t believe I worked this hard to receive this somber email. Again.”

What rejection really does to you is twist your perceptions of the world. Our hearts are naΓ―ve, our heads are rational- we’ve been in this drill our whole lives. So when we get responses saying “We loved your work, but it isn’t a good fit for us,” our rational brains are racing to make all those elaborate calculations, getting all caught up and exhausted in the process, and finally saying, “Dude, you’re a pathetic writer. Accept it and get this heartache over with already.” It’s a far-fetched statement, because it isn’t something that comes from the logical brain- it is a reflection of what you feel within yourself. Most of my writer friends claim that they anticipate the rejection, because they knew that they are just not cut out to be the 3 percenters who make it to the big plaques such as the New Yorker or The Atlantic or Granta. Maybe you are, maybe you’re not. But you’re willing to try, and that’s what matters.

I’d been to elite book fairs, paying a grand sum on every occasion, meeting with agents, publishers and magazine reps, collected business cards and exchanged numbers, only to return with a heavier weight in my heart and a deep-rooted intimidation on my sleeve, because I knew that with my current work, there was no way I was going to get there. I would have to undergo some kind of radical transformation. Upscale my Alpha and Beta waves, read more important works, and fight the battle of the blinking cursor on an empty Word (or Pages) page. The fear is real, and truth be told, you need it. You sometimes need to be told that you’re not ‘good enough’, to be ‘better than the 97%’.

We plough through the empty pages and breathe through the pain.

We are writers. We are romantically entangled with our works, and naturally, we seek attention. If we just wrote for ourselves, we wouldn’t be aspiring to get published; heck, we wouldn’t even write blogs. We want glory, we want celebration, we want to be invited over to fancy book readings (the ones with the champagne at the end) to have coffee and converse on our ‘writing process’. We want the Pulitzers and the Nobels, and we want coveted titles such as ‘#1 Bestseller’ and ‘NY Times Bestseller’. But, as rejectees, we fall down, deeper into the ditch than we were when we first got in. But, the secret lies in making more aspiring mistakes- in never forgetting to crave for that attention, even for that microcosm of a second under the spotlight. In essence, we try to make the most of it while we’re in the damn ditch we know we can’t get out of soon enough. So what do we do? We write. It may be mediocre, it may be redundant, it may be unimportant and not address global issues of racism, casteism, globalism, or environmentalism, but we persevere and write. We want to cry our ideas out to the world. We plough through the empty pages and breathe through the pain. Why? Because that’s who we are. It gives us a sense of belonging. It makes us ‘whole’.

Pursuing the creative arts is an uphill task, and when you get there after getting out of the ditch, and scaling a gazillion mountains, you might plant your rejection summit flag. However, the important part is- You made it to the rejection. You put yourself out there, and you braved the climb. It doesn’t matter that the view isn’t spectacular, because you’re not going to be there long enough anyway. You have to descend, and you have to ascend again. You push yourself out of the womb, and start climbing. You don’t condemn your works to the confines of your study drawer, and I think that’s very telling of your indomitable spirit.

So, here’s to more rejection, gradual ascents and descents! I really, really hope we can make the climb.

19 thoughts on “Scaling the Rejection Summit

  1. First of all, welcome back to the blog. Checked your posts on the reader and saw that the last one was in 2017. So I guess not reading your posts wasn’t just because I wasn’t frequently on WordPress myself. πŸ™‚

    The rejection, there are two obvious points that come to mind reading this post.

    One, whatever I say won’t be enough.
    Two, you will rise, because Jack Ma and J. K. Rowling and folks, all faced rejections. Or at least that’s what I wish for you.

    But beyond the obvious, I’d simply say that I identified with the idea of not letting the thoughts and stories and posts in your mind wilt and die without coming out in the world. After that, whatever has to happen will etc etc. That is the reason I opened the app right now, to write on something I’ve been meaning to write for the last week or so. And I will. Because that’s the biggest sacrament for us writers, write!

    All the best, Potato. One day you will be French Fries, and in a good way. 🀞

    1. Oh my God! I was crossing my fingers and hoping you’d like and comment 😬 thank you tons- your words are coffee to a rainy day! I’ve now taken it up on myself to write more often, no matter what. I had a very trying time but things are definitely looking up! French fries it is! 😬😬

  2. I couldn’t believe the number of rejections I got before my first book was published.
    Luckily I had been in sales for 40 years so I had had lots of practice with rejections in person.
    Finally, they roll off like rain on a tin roof.
    Good post – no rejection from me!

  3. At least you go out there! πŸ™‚ Some of us sit still, writing, sometimes not writing, and don’t even try to find someone, anyone, who might publish us… well, I’m speaking for me. πŸ™‚ Success is among the rejections somewhere!

      1. Of course! I was wondering why you were so quiet. You’re excused, since you’re working on getting published. πŸ˜‹ Keep at it. I’ll be hanging around, looking out for you. All the very best!

      2. Hahaha I was just doing a lot of things amidst *attempting* to get published. It’s your unconditional support that I truly truly missed. So glad to have you around ❀️

      3. An attempt to get published in between doing a lot of things is still better than some of us stuck in a limbo. 😊😁 In the meantime… now you see me, now you don’t. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜› We keep going back.

    1. Never give up find another way if we put the same amount of passion into the after as we do creating our books characters, and even blogs agents want people who first have a great book, second are willing to progress and change what’s needed to make it amazing , they want people who will be easy to manage and work with. Who will do what it takes. If you can connect with that one agent who looks at your book and knows it’s huge potential.
      I haven’t got an agent at the moment or even a publisher anymore. Fully self publishing for a while while I build a better author profile and reach. Good luck on your journey πŸ˜€β€οΈ

      1. That’s solid advice. I really needed that- so a big shout-out to you. Self publishing sounds fantastic- where can I read your works? I’m really intrigued ❀️

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