Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Grieve Those Rejections by Diana Flegal

“The un-mourned disappointment becomes the barrier that separates us from future dreams.”

                                                                                           Julia Cameron ‘The Artist’s Way’

We often speak of birthing our stories, so when they are not picked up, it hurts. Too often we pick ourselves right back up and soldier on, which is good because sometimes it was not meant for that publisher. But if there comes a time when your baby must be set aside in an effort to begin a different manuscript all together, you must allow yourself to grieve.

Chapter 8 in Julia Cameron’s The Artists Way titled, Recovering a Sense of Strength warns us not to skip this important step. Your future success might depend on it.

How do you grieve a disappointment?  

Do you beat yourself up, speak awful self talk to the tearful face in the mirror? “You are dreaming, to think you can write! Didn’t your fourth grade teacher Mrs. Fletcher tell you not to pursue writing as a career?”

Or maybe you hyper-spiritualize it. “Well that just must not be the will of God for me. After all, if it was, it would have sold to the first person we sent it to!”

Or maybe you throw your agent under the bus in a Facebook post. “I want to let the world know I have terminated my relationship with Hiflalutin Agency. They are incompetent, and couldn’t get a writer a contract if their life depended on it!” lists the five stages of grief as: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Above we listed an example of a few.

The truth is- you will feel each of these when your material is rejected. While you may cycle through them quickly, pay attention to each stage.  Own it. Then make a healthy decision based on what is TRUE.

Sometimes a certain genre has flooded the market. Sometimes your writing is just not stellar enough to compete with others. And sometimes, that book was meant to teach you something so the NEXT one finds a publishing home.

It is tempting, but don’t rush the process. Acknowledge it, and share it.

Be kind to yourself and others.


Linda Glaz said...

I agree. I can remember many instances when a write continued to pepper me with insulting remarks, etc. because I didn't take a work from them. It got doggone embarrassing and awkward, and while I tried to be very nice and encouraging, I got the feeling I had a distinct stalker beginning. And often, it's just a matter of the right work at the wrong time for my connections. And while we know how much it hurts to be turned down, the answer could be different just a few days or weeks down the road.

Jean Wise said...

I learned a while back that disappointment is one of my biggest obstacles in life and once I recognized the Devil liked to use it on me I handled it better. My mama used to tell me wait three days - just like the disciples did after Good Friday. So I allow myself a day or two or three of grieving and maybe a little feeling sorry for myself, then set it aside and begin again. We are always beginners, right?

Diana Flegal said...

Linda, how awful for you! That author was definitely in a stage of DENIAL. :-(

Jean, I like what your mama said. How wise- and to link it to how the disciples faced Jesus death- wow- how crushing that must have been to not be daily walking and talking with him!

Linda Glaz said...

It was...interesting!

Terry Burns said...

I have only had a couple who responded in an insulting or profane manner and I don't even respond to those, I block their email so I get nothing further from them. That means by resorting to such a tactic they gave up any chance of submitting to me again. However, I do have people come back to "explain" to me how I made a mistake rejecting the work. I will respond to that, sometimes a couple of times but if they continue beyond that point I explain the concept of blocking the email and how that blocks any future possibility. Only once did someone continue beyond that point and I went ahead with the block. Have I had someone offer me some additional information that caused me to take a second look at a project? Yes, about five minutes ago. Does it happen very often that I change my mind? No, not often at all, I don't pass on a project without a reason.

Diana Flegal said...

Terry, you are so gracious. It is just too bad that some writers do not research the industry and attend a few conferences to learn the way things should be handled.

Wendy L. Macdonald said...

Diana, I love this timely post. Another step a writer may want to include is thanksgiving:

-thanksgiving that they completed a manuscript (since only 3 in 100 do)
-thanksgiving for taking the scary step of querying (only 1 in a 100 secure representation)
-thanksgiving that an agent even took notice in such a busy industry
-thanksgiving that they can learn from any comments in a rejection note
-thanksgiving that they can write a new book and begin the journey again

I'm feeling thankful that grief is just part of the journey. There's so much more to focus on--writing, reading, and learning.

Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

Diana Flegal said...

Good thought Wendy!

Elaine Stock said...

Diana, thanks for this professional reassurance that it's not only okay to feel bummed about a pass (I have trouble with the word rejection), but that it's actually healthy to have this emotion. I've recently gone through this--so close but no thanks--and after allowing myself whatever moods churned my insides I came out of it with a new attitude for myself: it was/is a good story but was for the wrong publisher. And more importantly, though I hate to admit it, I have come to realize that no, it's not because God has something against me.

Everything does happen for a reason!

Diana Flegal said...

Elaine, you are so normal :-) Everything serves a purpose, no small thing is EVER wasted. Father, help Elaine's title find a publishing home soon! Amen!

Sara Ella said...

Great advice, Diana! And the 5 stages of grief relate perfectly! Rejection is hard to deal with but I agree we need to focus on what is TRUE. Thanks for this encouraging post!

Elaine Stock said...

Diana, thanks so much for the sweet words and the prayer. I am so thankful to be a Hartline client! Your encouragement, Linda's--of course!--and the other agents truly keep me moving forward.

Heartfelt thanks.

Kay Moser said...

Great post, Diana. I can testify that over-spiritualizing an acceptance or a rejection is unwise. God teaches us through all our experiences, but we are simply not sophisticated enough to keep up with divine thinking. God's love for us is personal, unrelenting and unchanging.