Artistic rejection is like taking cod liver oil; they say it’s good for you, you know they’re right, but it can be still tough to swallow. ~Ian Semple
Let’s just be honest here. Rejection sucks. I know, I’m supposed to say something like, all writers deal with rejection, and it’s all part of the journey, but here’s what I think: It sucks.
No one likes to be rejected or have their work rejected. I mean, no one that I know. Do you know anyone who enjoys rejection? I don’t think so. OK, so now that we are clear that you know exactly what I think about rejection, I will now slip into my Big Girl Writing Panties and tell you how I am learning to swallow the disgusting pill of rejection regularly.
A few years ago, I was interviewed for a position which seemed like a good fit. Despite lacking all of the requirements, I was called back for multiple interviews, until the final interview came with 5 people- and one overseeing the process. I pulled no punches. They seemed to think I was a great fit, and the positive communication and vibes continued, throughout what turned out to be an extensive interview process.
I was hopeful.
Until the fateful call on a Monday. The Monday before Christmas that year. The message was kind in tone but the words spoken rang out clearly. I did not secure the job position.
It was as if I got sucker punched to the stomach. I was devastated. I couldn’t understand why God had let me go so far into the process, only to be let down. It took me a long while before I could regain my breath from that particular blow. Despite the call I got with the explanation which had to do with grant funding requirements and that despite my potential co-workers and superiors believing me an asset, a key overseer to the project pointed out my lack.
Rejection is never easy. Whether it’s for a coveted job, romantic relationship or any arena one can enter to compete for a prize. We all want to be accepted.
In 2015 I began to submit some of my work for publication to literary magazines for the first time. As one still trying to find the right fit for my writing this has been a learning process. I realize now it has been a helpful undertaking despite receiving rejections for almost every single manuscript and piece of work I sent out.
The most surprising (to me) rejection I received was when I submitted a poetry manuscript to a Christian publication. I was optimistic, figuring I had been mistakenly submitting my work to Secular publications. Silly me. It was unanimous, apparently my submissions were equally unpalatable to both Secular and Christian publishers. Phew. That made me feel so much better. Um, not.
We, as creatives, rarely differentiate our work from ourselves. But we must. I realize this now. The old saying, “That which doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.” has some truth in it. The fact is, it hasn’t killed me to be rejected multiple times. Or should I say, have my “work” rejected?
As I can see more clearly now the wisdom of me not getting that job, I am better able to accept the reality of repeated rejections in my writing journey.
I came across this quote as I wrote this post:
Rejection is God’s protection. ~ Mark Kostabi
Perhaps this is something to consider. We wrestle with the things that God allows and doesn’t allow into our lives. Sometimes we are clueless to why certain outcomes happen and others don’t.
Are the things we desire God’s desires? Are they necessary? How much of what we desire is shaped by the world’s expectations or ideas of success? How could rejection be a tool for God to use to draw us into alignment with his purposes and timing for His desires for us?
Sometimes, when I want to argue with God about how I hate feeling like no one is hearing me, getting my writing- or that anyone even cares two hoots about it- I consider Jesus…who came to his own but was not received or recognized (John 1:10, 11). Who was despised and rejected by men (Isaiah 53:3).
When I think of my Lord not being received or recognized- acknowledged…it breaks my heart. When I think that many have rejected Him…still will…it causes me to pause. But, it also reminds me of where my priorities remain. Where my Focus needs to be fixed. Because I am not a writer. I am a follower of Christ- who happens to write. God has entrusted me with words, and I must remain clear on His purposes for me with regard to my writing life.
I hold loosely any outward identity which would cause me to forget my first allegiance. My first allegiance is Christ. Not success or acceptance by this world’s standards.
The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:17
Am I still seeking publication? Yes. Will my work be rejected again? Yes. Will I stop seeking publication in the future? I will share any news of what direction I will go with publication with you here in the future. I will trust God to lead me, and not succumb to the ridiculous amounts of self-promoting gurus and their ways. The means and the end result both matter.
This is my story…this is my song.
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One thought on “Swallowing Hard the Pill of Rejection”
Not one of us likes rejection but I like your reminder that our true identity is in Christ!
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