Writing Emotional Pain—Part II

Sad girlI’m reposting this, (with some editing) because it’s been nearly a year. I really did try to not “bleed” on you, but I did, didn’t I? Well, here’s the update. Yes, “Meghan’s Choice” has been rejected nine times within about a year and a half (four publishers, three contests, and two agents). I’ve healed from all of the rejections, but it’s very disappointing. Rejection is disappointing and it hurts, but you can be healed from it like I am. Click to Tweet #amwriting #rejection #emotion

“Please reject.” The email was from a complete stranger. I almost didn’t open it because I thought it was junk mail.

Then I thought, oh. Well, I might as well see who this is really from.

I was once told that writing one’s pain makes a compelling read. It’s deep and people can identify. My pain is rejection. I don’t do well with it. I never have. I think I was born with it. It’s called Avoidant Personality Disorder (APD). In other circles, it’s called Root of Rejection. Healing has come in stages.

I promise not to bleed all over you, but show you how my thinking is skewed. Ridiculous thoughts of self-condemnation and diminished self-worth keep running through my mind.

Really now, I do know better. I really do, and yet I get caught up in the misery. I’m not going to recite the long litany of rejections I’ve had in my life. But suffice it to say–it’s from before birth. I evidently have a personality type that was affected by being adopted. My brother, who is also adopted, wasn’t affected.

Why would one absurd rejection from an intern try to steal my joy? Because it was so impersonal–and so inaccurate. I guess I expected more from this award-winning literary agent. But why should I have? He’s human, and very definitely not perfect. He daily doles out rejection slips through his intern, probably like an assembly line. He just records the dictation tape, or puts a sticky note on a file, saying “please reject.”

What's this little guy feeling?

What’s this little guy feeling?

I was disappointed because I had high hopes. They were dashed. This guy had recently won an award for being so good at his job. But everything in the actual two-sentence content of the reject letter showed he made some erroneous assumptions and presumptions.

Because I’m previously unpublished, he assumed I didn’t know the publishing process. (But I am very familiar with it). He presumed I hadn’t even had the sample chapters I sent him–or my whole manuscript for that matter–professionally edited. (I spent thousands of dollars on writing courses and a professional substantive edit). But of course he can’t be bothered to say anything more–he’s a busy man–too busy to even tell me himself.

His intern is obviously so young, (my guess is college) so she doesn’t have much experience in professional business etiquette or correspondence. Honestly, here’s what the subject line said.

“Please reject.”

I’ve come full circle. I’m back to the beginning. And this is the end. I’m being real with you today. If you feel bled on, slimed, or in any way trashed by this–I’m sorry. Please accept my apologies.

It’s been nearly a year since I posted this. I’m over the hurt, but I’ll never forget it. Some people were outraged at what happened and how that guy handled it. They thought I should demand an apology. Honestly, I didn’t ever want to talk to him again. And, I haven’t.

I did have to swallow two disappointments this year and be able to be amiable with an agent and a publisher who rejected me last year, so I could book them for my ACFW Pennsylvania State Chapter online and conference events.

Rejection is a part of life, and we need to learn to deal with it in a healthy way. Click to Tweet But that’s hard when your feelings are stronger than you understand.

What do you think? How do you handle rejection? Leave a comment and let me know. And–thanks for reading.

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