Rejection Rocks

(Originally published Feb. 6, 2008).

This week, I dusted off a speech I delivered at an Ottawa RWA brunch in February, 2006. At that time, the sale of my first book, The Jaguar Legacy, was but a dream.

Upon re-reading the speech, I am grateful for its continuing relevancy in my life — because in a few short months, I will be ready to repeat the submission process all over again, this time with my second book, Fur Ball Fever.

Here is what I wrote:

I have always understood why the writing community celebrates the thrill of a first book sale. But REJECTION? Not so obvious.

I’m the first to admit that when I first started writing, those rejection notices seemed a mystifying cause for celebration. How, I asked myself, could anyone possibly commemorate a brush-off? Wouldn’t it be better just to sweep those pesky rejections under the rug, paste on a smile, and pretend they never had happened?

When I put the finishing touches on my firstborn manuscript, my new baby, I recognized that I had reached a crossroads. I could either take the safe path, the familiar path, the flat and easy path, never risking rejection, never striving for success; or I could take the uphill path, the difficult path, the path studded with rocks and roots waiting to trip me up, the only path that offered an opportunity to overcome obstacles and achieve my dreams.

Carl Jung once said, “If there is a fear of falling, the only safety consists in deliberately jumping.”

With great trepidation, I trudged onto the uphill path and submitted my manuscript.

As a proud recipient of twenty-one rejections, I believe I have found the answer I sought. Over time, I grew to understand that each rejection was also a cause for celebration — an acknowledgement that I poured out my heart and soul to the best of my abilities and had the courage to seek success.

I must be growing up at last because I recognize that when I cut away the junk, life is all about choices. I choose how I react to situations. I choose how rejection will affect my mood. I can choose to be in a good mood or bad mood when that heart-stopping rejection notice leers up at me. I can choose to be a victim and view myself as a failure or I can hold my head up, proud that I have done something many dream of and few have accomplished — written a novel. I can choose to wallow in self-pity (although I try to confine my wallowing to a maximum of one day, generally accompanied by abject whining and my body weight in chocolate) or I can dust off my butt, learn from my mistakes, and keep on writing. The bottom line: It’s my choice how I face the bumps in my life.

According to Robert Kennedy, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”

Let’s all follow the Kennedy example and dare to fail greatly.