I am a people pleaser. I’m pretty sure I came out of the womb asking the medical staff if there was anything I could do for them. I invariably want to go out of my way to make sure everyone is happy, but my ambitious goal is not necessarily always an attainable goal. In the words of John Lydgate, later adapted by President Lincoln, ‘you can’t please all of the people all of the time’.
As a young writer, back in my grade school days, I was afraid to let people read my poetry for fear they would not like it. That same phobia applied to my poems and short stories through high school and college. Writing, for me, is the biggest part of myself and I used to feel that if people didn’t like my writing, they were somehow rejecting ME. It wasn’t until I began the process of seeking an agent or a publisher that I began to truly understand how rejection makes us stronger.
I received my most recent rejection last night. It was a curt line that simply said, “Thanks for submitting, but I’m afraid this one isn’t for us. ” Instead of feeling unsettled by such a quick and negative response, the thought in my head was more of understanding that my book was not a true fit for their collection. I wasn’t sad. I was merely determined to continue the quest to find an agent that would best be suited for ME and not the other way around.
Writing a book is not for the faint of heart. Hemingway said it best when he quipped, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” My blood is now the ink on the pages that I crafted. My skin is much thicker now than it was and I am more than prepared to deal with my overwhelming share of the writing world’s brush-off. Those abrupt dismissals are the constant in the ‘writer seeking publishing’ equation and I am prepared to rework the problem until I come up with an acceptable answer.
To bastardize Sally Field’s 1985 Oscar acceptance speech, “They don’t like me. Right now, they don’t like me.” And I’m okay with that because, someday, that will change.