Most, if not all, writers have to deal with the painful bite of rejection.
Even when it comes in the polite canned form of… “Unfortunately, this isn’t quite right for us at this time. But we wish you all the best of luck with it and with your writing career.”
Or, for your screenplay, “Unfortunately, this script doesn’t quite fit our criteria.” No matter how they phrase it, rejection is painful.
They are telling you a brutal truth: they don’t want your beautifully crafted story—that marvel into which you poured hours of blood, sweat, and tears. Not to mention the hours and hours you invested editing and re-editing. Nor the fanciful hours you dreamed of someone picking up your tale.
These are dreams potentially dashed each time you go to the mailbox, or open an email response to your work. “Sorry, this doesn’t fit our criteria.”
These events can leave the writer in a funk for the rest of a writing day. At least that’s how it affects me. I may find myself questioning why I even try. Why risk more of this insanity? What makes me think I have talent? Or that another human being might take pleasure or comfort or joy from what I’ve written.
Right about now you are probably asking yourself, “Why is this guy battering my otherwise great morning, dragging me into the depths of bad memories and of past rejections, when I’d much rather leave those hurtful experiences buried away in the dark recesses—locked away in the trunk at the back of the closet way down at the bottom of my pity-pit?
Here’s why. One day in the not-so-distant past, right after opening yet another dreaded rejection email and suddenly gripped by that familiar dark mood of self-pity/self doubt, when all the world had turned bleak and colorless, I stumbled onto a song by a Canadian singer—a song that grabbed hold of my wounded psyche and lifted me out of my funk.
Curious about the singer, Justin Hines, I looked him up on line. What I found jolted me, made me realize what a great “woosey” I was, letting words in an email twist me like that. Undermine my self-image, when in truth I had so much.
Here was this young man, relegated to a wheelchair for life, his body distorted by a dreadful disease, a rare genetic joint condition called Larsen’s syndrome. It causes the body’s joints to dislocate. To prevent this, the joints are medically fused. So not only is this talented young man bound to a wheelchair, his body has been surgically transformed into rigid unnatural angles. Yet with all that against him, he chooses a life style that requires him to appear before audiences, and perform. To put himself up for public judgment—and brave the possibility of the hurtful slap of rejection or worse humiliation! Justin claims he does it because he loves it—because he’s always wanted to do it. And he, by God, stayed with it until he made it.
It hit me in a flash of self-realization, I write because I have something to say, and by God I want to share it. And that I shouldn’t let some mechanical email or form letter drown my desire. I’ve got to keep swimming, keep writing, keep trying.
I’m attaching the link to the official video and lyrics of Justin’s song for my writing friends to print out and hang with the image of Justin Hines someplace above your computer. My hope is, next time any of you feel like wallowing in self-pity and loathing, you’ll read the song, look at Justin and know you sure as hell can keep on keeping on.
Damn the letters of rejection! Write on!
TELL ME I’M WRONG