Monday, September 28, 2009

The Rejection Fairy

The other night I had a dream. I was dressed in a pink tutu, and my hair was sticking straight up in blonde and purple spikes. In one hand I held a magic wand whose tip sputtered off and on like a fuse about to go. The other hand gripped a letter that began with the words: Dear Author, I’m sorry for the form nature of this letter…

My heart was beating like crazy and there was a burning smell coming from my magic wand. I looked closer at the side of the wand and saw a red button lit up on the side indicating that the battery was low. And then it went out completely.

I suppose the dream was really about the frustration of being rejected. The wand is my creativity about to fizzle out due to the overwhelming depression I sometimes feel at the number of rejections piling up on my desk. Don’t misunderstand me—I’m not in the Bell Jar or anything, but I do feel that sense of darkness rising up when I think about sending out one more query letter, or even one more story to be processed by an agent or editor. Having been in the game for a while, I understand very well how the process works. Sometimes your stuff lands on another person’s desk or inbox at just the right moment and the magic happens. You get a yes! But more often than not…well, let’s just say the rejection fairy comes to visit. And stays and stays and stays…

However, I guess I should tell you about the rest of the dream. I gave the wand a shake and the battery light came on full. I tapped it against the form rejection letter and watched the paper fly though the air into my trashcan. I sat down at my computer, and in a blaze of furious typing that I can never simulate in real life, I wrote the most amazing piece of prose. Too bad I can’t remember it.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that rejection is the nature of the beast and when confronted with it, we must turn ourselves in to our own rejection fairy and reject the rejection. How do we do this? Well, everyone has their own technique and there are dozens of books and articles on the web about this problem. Personally, I find that taking a break for a few days or going back through my files and finding a story that I’d forgotten about helps. Sometimes taking the break or turning your attention to something else helps you get back on track. Talking about it with loved ones is great, too. Spouses, parents, siblings—they know how to make you feel better (or worse depending on who your siblings are). I get a lot of strength and inspiration from my fellow writers, too. If you don’t have a writing group or know any other writers, get off your duff and find some! Talk about a group of people who know exactly what you’re going through—other writers love to talk about their misery. (Why else would I be writing this article?) You’ll find out soon enough you are not alone.

So if the rejection fairy knocks at your door with a form letter, embrace her or him (whatever you’re in to) and invite them in. Read the letter, experience the disappointment, and then take their magic wand and beat them senseless. Reject the rejection and keep on writing.

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