As a writer I’m supposed to have a thick skin. One of the first things they’ll tell you at a writing conference is to toughen up and get used to rejection. I wonder if we ever really do. Being told no, you’re not good enough is hard to take. There’s no wonder cure to help it become any more palatable. No sugar to mix in. Nothing to deaden the feeling as it smacks you in the gut. Rejection hurts. I don’t care who you are.
Having said that, I got a pretty nice rejection a while back. It came from my biggest writer crush agent. The one I’d love most to rep my books. She said no and I smiled the whole time I read it. Even now, if I feel a little down about my queries I go back to that rejection and read it again.
Why? She didn’t tell me I sucked. She didn’t smash my dreams and toss them into the wind, daring me to chase them. She said, I’m sorry, but I’m too busy and sometimes I have to reject good writing. Keep trying. Those little words of encouragement were the key to the whole letter. Your dream matters – don’t give up because I said no. Keep believing in your words and your story and get back out there and ‘keep trying’.
Words matter. Perhaps I’m overly sensitive since words are the tools of my trade, but I don’t think so. There’s always another way to say something whether its to a child or a coworker. Make your words honest without crushing a dream. Yeah, it is that simple. Please understand, I’m not asking you to sugarcoat it and offer delusional hope. I don’t mean that at all. Be honest but kind.
What does it cost you? Nothing. Believe in the dreams and help others around you to soar. Let your children dabble in the arts. Encourage them. Cultivate their interests. While you’re at it, try chasing a dream or two of your own.