Monday, August 9, 2010

Acceptance and Rejection

No one is immune to rejection. And all of us have experienced acceptance.

Given the choice, we'd rather be accepted than rejected, but disappointment is simply a part of everyday life.

Writers experience rejection regularly throughout their careers. So do actors, directors, artists, and anyone else who puts themselves or their work on public view to the masses.

If you put your heart and soul into creating a painting, it is almost guaranteed someone is going to hate it. But it's also quite likely someone is going to think it's the greatest work of art she's ever seen. (Yes, I'm talking about your mother--no, just kidding.)

As a writer I, like all of you creative people, have had doubts about my abilities when someone has said something negative about one of my books. It's hard to hear bad things about a project I've poured my soul into, a project I've struggled with for months or even years. (Yes, I have spent years on some books.)

What makes us REAL writers (as opposed to the dreamers who boast they are going to have a book published "someday") is our ability to shrug off rejection and continue to strive to create better and better stories. Fill in "artists" "actors" "engineers" "teachers" or whatever for "writers" and this observation is easily applied to all lines of work.

When we are rejected by our boss, an editor, etc. we need to take stock of the criticism offered, weigh it, use whatever might be helpful, then move on--forge ahead and continue with our plan to reach our goals.

The only bad writer (engineer, teacher, bowler, etc.) is the one who gives up instead of taking criticism in stride and striving to improve the quality of their work everyday.

As a writer, I realize I'm a sensitive person, empathetic, a worrier too. While these emotions can be negative in daily life (especially when dealing with rejection), they are a blessing in my professional life (when I'm not dealing with rejection).

Were I not sensitive and empathetic, how could I possibly create characters who were rich, human, vulnerable, strong, courageous?

I couldn't.

No matter what our goals are in our personal lives and our careers, we benefit most when we can take a negative (like a writer being extra sensitive to editorial rejection) and turn it into a positive (using that sensitivity to create unforgetable, touching characters).

Dare I say we should make lemonade when life hands us lemons?

No, I don't think I'll use that tired old cliche. I'll suggest we woman up or man up and do the best we can with what we have to work with.

Now, it's time I take my own advice and get back to my current work in progress.


Fran Shaff

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