How Do We Handle Rejection and Keep on Pressing?

LOVE Tard. Seemed appropriate.

LOVE Tard. Seemed appropriate.

Rejection sucks. There is no other way of saying it. Of course, the clincher is that rejection is not only part of life, but it is a necessary ingredient to the life well-lived. But, how do we handle rejection in a way that is constructive? A lot of how we handle rejection stems from how we view rejection.

I have a saying: If we aren’t failing, then we aren’t doing anything interesting. Of course, there are those individuals out there who will never suffer from rejection, but they never try. These people never dare and never step out of the comfort zone. Thus, I suppose all of us face a choice daily—pain of rejection or pain of mediocrity.

Either way, there will be pain.

A Closer Look at Rejection

How many of you applied for a dream job? Went on a first date with someone you were CRAZY about? Entered that dream contest? Queried that mega-agent?

…only to fall flat on your face?

Okay, but how many of you:

Applied for a job that was beneath your skill level? Went on a dreadful date as a favor? Queried an agent you really didn’t want, but you promised yourself that you’d query at least 10 agents a month?

…only to get rejected.

O-U-C-H, right?

All of us have been rejected when we’ve reached for the stars, but then there is the time where we totally were going to reject the other party…and they beat us to the punch.

What? He didn’t feel a spark with ME? He doesn’t want to go out with ME again? He can’t dump me, I was going to dump HIM.

It’s bad enough getting dumped, but getting dumped by the guy who lives in his mother’s basement and who’s never had an actual job stings just a wee bit…ok, a lot more. And I know that it is ego and a tad of narcissism on our part, but that just goes with being human. We all feel the sting in our pride.

Statistics show that 10% of people won’t like us, no matter what we do.

All of us want to be well-liked, loved, accepted, but 1 out of 10 people probably think you were dropped on your head. Don’t feel bad, 1 out of 10 think that about me, too…because they were dropped on THEIR heads, LOL.


I subscribe to the Underwear Too Tight Theorem. Wearing ill-fitting undies is probably responsible for most road rage, violent crimes and likely a couple wars. Hey, you ever buy the wrong size bra and try to be pleasant? Just saying that, if someone doesn’t see how awesome you are, the odds are they should have chosen boxers over briefs.

Don’t argue, it’s science :D.

My first meme. Seemed appropriate for today.

My first meme. Go Grumpy Cat!

We Really Are All Winners

Look, you are special, unique, precious YOU, and yeah, I can guarantee that, when you try to do something amazing, odds are you’re going to fall and skin your ego more than a few times. Happened with rollerskating, learning to ride a bike and with querying an agent. The trick is perspective. Learn to back up and look at the big picture.

Closed Doors Can Be Some of the Best Gifts

Sure, we all have failures and setbacks, but I promise that some of the best gifts in life are closed doors, missed opportunities, or rejection.

In 2008, I went through the nastiest, most hellish breakup. There is being dumped, and then there is BEING-DUMPED-AND-WHILE-I’M-HERE-I-WILL-CRUSH-EVERY-GOOD-THING-YOU BELIEVE-ABOUT-YOURSELF-AND-RIP-YOUR-BEATING-HEART-OUT-OF-YOUR-CHEST-AND-SHOW-IT-TO-YOU. I’d never been through anything so cruel. My ego was so bruised I was seriously open to the idea of living out the rest of my days in a convent. A month later, I met my husband who is the love of my life and the most perfect man for ME. Thank GOD that jerk dumped me!

If I’d had instant success as a novelist, I would never have become the Social Media Jedi who gets to help you guys shine your brightest, and I wouldn’t trade that joy for a hundred NYTBS novels. When I started as a writer, I had no idea that, though I was a strong fiction writer, my real gift was in teaching, shaping and nurturing others. If I hadn’t been rejected on one path, I would never have found my true path.

Some Cool Stuff About Rejection

Cool stuff? Kristen, have you been licking frogs? There is nothing awesome about being rejected.

Um, no, I gave up licking frogs last New Year’s Day, and YES, rejection can be awesome.

Rejection Shows Us Where We Need to Grow

When engineers design a new car, they create a prototype. That prototype is then built and…tested. The place to find out of the brakes don’t work is NOT on 1-95 when a family of six is inside counting on being able to stop in a rainstorm.

There are plenty of people with the talent to take them to the stars, but they lack the character to stay there. All of us have rough spots, bad habits, or areas where our character or work ethic could come up higher. It is best to sort this stuff before The Big Game, when the stakes are so high that failure is catastrophic.

Rejection Can Show Us That We Are Doing Something Right

I happen to be one of those people who dances to the beat of her own ukelele. It’s hard to be different, but “fitting in” often comes at the expense of greatness. When we pursue our dreams, often we will meet resistance. In fact, I guarantee you will meet resistance. A lot of times it is because when we step out and dare, we remind others that mediocrity is a choice, not fate.

Also, people are generally afraid of change, so anything we do that is different or challenges the status quo can be viewed as a threat. It isn’t personal. It’s just human to be afraid of change.

Rejection Can Be a Sign of a Pending Promotion

One of my favorite jokes goes like this:

Screen Shot 2012-12-10 at 3.44.17 PM

Image courtesy of Sarah Madison WANA Commons

Scientists wanted to understand more about pessimism versus optimism. Was it nature? Nurture? Or both? They scoured the country looking for a set of identical twins, but one needed to be a pessimist and the other an optimist. Once the scientists found their set of twins, they separated the two and put them each alone in a room where they were chest-deep in manure. Then, they sat back and watched through a one-way mirror to see what would happen.

The pessimistic young man wailed an cursed and pouted. He moaned, It figures. This kind of stuff always happens to me. My brother always has it so much easier.

The scientist looked in on the optimistic twin and the young man was grinning ear to ear as he dug through the piles of manure. He laughed with glee as he flung large handfuls of the stinky stuff in the air, and then he’d dive in for more.

Baffled, the scientists had to know what the heck was going on. They peeked in the room and asked, What on earth are you so happy about? You are up to your chest in manure!

To which the twin replied, I know! Isn’t it great? With all this horse#$%&, there has GOT to be a pony in here somewhere!

Often it gets the darkest when we are actually doing the right thing. In fact, before every promotion, I know I’ve suffered the worst setbacks. Hey, a new level a new devil. Just count on it. Life is all about choices and success comes from how we interpret failure. Is it a tombstone or a stepping stone?

So, the next time it feels like life is using you for a punching bag, the next time you fail or face rejection, just think: With all this horse#$%@, there has GOT to be a pony in here somewhere!

Remember, we are WANAs. We are not alone. And when you get hit, lean on us…and play this song a few hundred times until you remember how amazing you are.

What’s your story? Have you ever been through a rejection so devastating you thought you’d DIE? What did you do? Did it turn out to be a blessing in disguise? Have you ever been just about to dump someone and they dumped YOU first? Have you ever failed, but that failure led you to something even BETTER?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of December, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of December I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.


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  1. Rejection always puts me in mind of the words of good old Sam Beckett: “Ever tried? Ever failed? No Matter, try again, fail again. Fail better.”

    Happy holidays, Kristen.

  2. Kristen, my father used to tell me that old saw about the boy shoveling out the manure in the stable because he knew there was a pony in there somewhere. Thanks for recycling a oldie but goodie. And I have to agree with you on all counts. When I have sent of writing samples that have been rejected by agents, I took it as a sign that the writing needed work. And I was right. So I am “failing better.” Thanks for a great post.

    • SaraMastbaum on December 10, 2012 at 5:42 pm
    • Reply

    I really needed this today! Rejection frequently has led to better things for me. Thanks for reminding me of this 🙂

  3. Hey, Kristen. Thanks for some encouraging words. I sent a query to an agent last year, via email, and before I moved away from the machine, a rejection arrived. It was almost instantaneous. What a joke!
    And I’m happy to tell you I’ve signed a contract for my first fiction publication–a short story with Soul Mate Publishing. Yippie.

  4. Great post. I’ve always looked at failing as part of life. How can you get better if you never fail?

  5. One transcendent line after another, Kristen. This is yet another fine essay, sparkling wit with heart, suitable for framing.

    Some favorite lines are “a new level a new devil” and “when we step out and dare, we remind others that mediocrity is a choice, not fate” but “we all feel the sting in our pride” brought it all home. You remind us we really wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Great job!

  6. Thanks for the great post! This term, during my study abroad program in Paris I somehow marked the wrong deadline for my 5-page midterm paper. Oops. Turns out French profs aren’t very forgiving. I got a zero for it. In talking with my program, however, they’ve agreed to let me do the paper for my advisor, factoring his grade into my final GPA. The bonus? Instead of working on a lousy, boring, glorified book report, my advisor is collaborating with me and letting me do a project that actually interests me! Yay! Missed opportunities always open new doors! Onwards and upwards!

  7. I’m not going to lie. I’ve been going through a bit of a rough patch lately when it comes to rejection. I’ve been feeling it all around me. From friends. Family. I’ve been feeling like my writing isn’t worthy of the blogosphere. Ever since my computer crashed, I’ve had a difficult time moving forward. I haven’t Even considered starting it again. Or anything else. So I guess the answer is I’m not doing very well. In reality, I don’t think I’ve had to deal with very much rejection and that is what is stymieing me. When ever I’ve wanted something, I got it — without killing myself. I’ve had a pretty charmed life. Completing my work in progress has been the biggest challenge I have faced to date. But I will start it again, and I intend to finish it.

    1. You better! You are a fantastic writer and just ignore everyone else. My opinion is all that counts and you are AWESOME-DIPPED-IN-MORE-AWESOME-DIPPED-IN-GLITTER. Keep pressing. Your story is wonderful.

  8. My fave rejection was the women’s magazine (oh, OK , it was Woman’s Day) that sneered at a personal essay I wrote about my divorce (talk about making yourself vulnerable). I sent it to a smarter Canadian woman’s mag and they loved it — and it won me a Canadian National Magazine Award, for humor. Sweet. Rejection is nothing to be scared of. It means you’re in the game. Athletes know that everything is a competition and sometimes it’s your turn to lose.

  9. My fav “rejection” was 2-fold. For my 30th b-day present I was asked for a divorce and a couple weeks later I lost my job. The upside, within a few weeks I was offered a job that ended up doubling my income, took me from secretarial temping to running a technical writing group, and through co-workers I met my wonderful husband.

  10. I figure if I’m getting rejected at least it means I’m trying. I’ll keep trying and have been blessed most of the rejections I’ve received have been nicely worded. Thanks for the words of inspiration. 🙂

    • Debbie Herbert on December 10, 2012 at 6:37 pm
    • Reply

    Rejection hurts and I don’t realize that it’s a gift until time has lessened its sting. I went through lots of rejections until I got an agent. Every ‘no’ forced me to revise and edit my manuscripts and helped me learn to become a better writer.

    • Michelle Roberts on December 10, 2012 at 6:45 pm
    • Reply

    Great post! Nice to hear encouragement sometimes.

    My recent, good rejection? I’ve never had the best relationship with my sister-in-law. And hubby and I have been living with my mother-in-law while he finishes college (’cause I can’t seem to keep a job). Anyway, when my sister-in-law came back from college this summer she threw a fit and kicked us out of the house. My MIL felt bad and offered to move us to Seattle so we’d have a better chance of getting a job (since hubby is now done with school). No joke, two days after we move hubby gets a job offer from a company he’d interviewed with and written off as a rejection. Talk about a weight lifting off your shoulders!

  11. Yes I have been rejected, and not that very long ago. Yes, I do think I’ll die, even though I probably won’t, but like you said, it feels like it. Great post. Kristen, I’ll keep looking for the pony..

  12. “The trick is perspective.” so VERY true!!! LOVE the story of comparison regarding your husband and the manure. And of course, absolutely LOVE the statistics quote and about being dropped 😉 LOL.

    And how funny, months ago I did a blog post on rejection and shared Katy’s Firework video. One of my fave songs and has always spoken to me.

    You always have all the right words to say, Hugs to you, Kristen!

  13. I can honestly say that I have never felt like a plastic bag. 😉

  14. I love the Firework song! That manure story is awesome! I’ve been getting rejections, but i have three different stories out, I’m bound to get some. I jut don’t want any more too close to Christmas and then I’ll sub again after, in the meantime I’m subbing poetry. I’m trying to train myself to look for ponies 🙂 Thanks!

  15. Rejection does hurt, but guess what? It doesn’t last. I’ve had the same outlook toward a lot of pain in my life. It has a shelf life and it will soon go away. I remember how awful I felt when I confessed my love to someone and the response was overwhelmingly negative. It hurt and I cried, but now, I hardly care anymore. Knowing this I smile and laugh in the middle of my pain because I know it won’t last. In the end, I feel happy. Nothing can steal my smile and happiness. Thanks Kristen for such an awesome post. Very encouraging!

  16. I love the manure and pony story. Great post and pick me up! Thanks.

    • annerallen on December 10, 2012 at 8:03 pm
    • Reply

    Awesome post, Kristen. Something to read again and again. I love it when you pointed out how often we get rejected by somebody we didn’t much want anyway. I had that experience when I was in the theater. After I’d done some work in film, I moved to the San Diego area, hoping to do some stage work. I tried out for a local community theater and didn’t even get a walk-on. I was devastated. The next day, the the director at a professional dinner theater called and asked me to try out for the lead in their next show. I got it. If I’d been carrying a spear in rehearsals for that amateur show, I’d never have got the professional gig. Thank goodness for that rejection!

    And we’re all so grateful that you didn’t have that instant fiction success. We need our social media Jedi!

  17. Oh. My. Gosh. Boy did I need to hear this today! I’m going to start searching for my pony. Seriously. Thanks for the pep talk!

  18. If nothing else, rejection from my boss has helped me to refine my talents. I often feel like I have more ideas than time. That is overwhelming. If I know what sorts of ideas I shouldn’t pursue, it frees me to write about the ones that my boss does like.

  19. Well, here goes. I am halfway through my first novel and was already anticipating all the rejection I have heard about all these years! The problem was I was seeing at the end of the road. You set me straight, so now I know the world is not singling me out as a loser! It is singling me out as a TRYER!
    Thanks Kristen!!!!

    1. Not a TRYER, a DOER. Do or do not. There is no try ;).

  20. Boy … this blog is timely. I just got the shaft on something I spent more than 10 years of my life writing. Ouch! Perfect timing for the pep talk (pep talks + grumpy kitty = feel better).

  21. Love it, and great timing for my Monday tips to keep on trucking. I also found a great blog from Skinny Artist on the Five Fears That Can Destroy An Artist. I’ve been in purebred dogs for forty years now, and have lost more than I’ve won. A book is MUCH easier to fix than a dog!

  22. Rejection has been a driving force in my life and in my writing. It was a few rejections that led me to ask what was off with my writing and hire the Death Star (you) to edit my ms. A whole new attitude was born from that, and that new attitude of being open to learning is paying off. Bottom line is that I believe that if I do my part and dedicate myself to being the best writer I can be, the rest will take care of itself.

  23. Reblogged this on ChantelC and commented:
    I try not to be reblog happy, but this was too good not to share. Lately I’ve been struggling to remind myself that I can continue on in the face of what feels like failure. Telling yourself over and over isn’t always enough. Sometimes you have to here someone say failure isn’t as bad as it seems. 🙂

  24. Rejected since I was 13, in terms of my writing. And being published traditionally, not just my indie ventures, was always my major goal. Opened my e-mail on my last “oh, what the hell” submission 5 days ago. Groaned that a big publisher had returned my submission 3 days after I submitted. You know what? It was an offer and a sample contract to look at. Know what else? i was out of ink in my printer and couldn’t send the forms back until the next day when I could get ink. Didn’t matter a bit!

  25. looking for pony

  26. When I finally completed my first novel after eight years, I queried about two dozens agents and received two dozen rejections before giving up. It hurt, but I knew it was because my writing wasn’t strong enough yet. I put that novel aside and started another, using everything I’d learned in the past eight years and from the rejections. My new novel is much stronger, and I have more confidence in it than I ever did in my first. I have now queried another dozen agents with another dozen rejections. The difference this time is that I know I’m only a few tweaks away from that magic combination that will grab the perfect agent for me. 🙂 I’m definitely not giving up any time soon!

  27. Such a great blog. And Katy Perry’s video is immensely inspiring! Thanks for the reminder that rejection is only a stepping stone on the path to success. I’m with you Kristen, if i hadn’t been rejected and had my heart broken, I would never have met my husband. Bookmarking this great blog for the future!

  28. Great post! You definitely have found your true path, and the rest of us reap the benefits. Thanks a bunch.

  29. I still laugh every time I hear that joke! Thanks for putting things in perspective – again! Perfect song for this blog post.

  30. Falling down isn’t what matters, it’s getting back up again that counts. Blake Snyder knew rejection personally before he broke into the screenwriting business in LA, and later penned the Save The Cat! books. His favorite saying was, “Every No is one step closer to Yes!” I love that. Any time I get discouraged by rejection, that becomes my mantra.

  31. I usually don’t listen to this drivel about making failure your friend, rejection is the path to success, just shovel the manure. Most of it is shallow and dishonest psycho-babble, you-can-do-it hype. So, why is this different? Because you start by acknowledging what we all know about failure and rejection–it hurts, and hurts a lot. Not fun. Thanks for being honest, Kristen.

    There is not always a redemption story to come from rejection, but there is one more often than we realize, as your story and many of the comments illustrate. After walking into divorce court on my fourth anniversary, having the fallout from that cause me to be dropped from my dream graduate program and career, rejection couldn’t get more intense. I came from a background where divorce was a scarlet letter. My Ivy League program was down the drain.

    I might add that one of the turning points for me in the darkness was a book. Bless the author who overcame many rejections and found a publisher for “A Wrinkle in Time.” Madeleine L’Engle touched me. Within a month of receiving that rejection notice, I met my wife, of 33 years now, and was reinstated into my program and had a successful career as a Physician Assistant.

    I am also a pastor, and I have a message I often give entitled, “When Bad News Is Good News.” There is no shortage of stories to illustrate this truth. One of my favorites involves a colleague from the time I was doing medical work in Haiti. He had just received news that the school where he taught would lose many thousands of dollars if he couldn’t get to court with the Haitian school president within two hours. Having no idea where the president was, my colleague rushed down the rough, steep road to Port-au-Prince in a rattling car. He hoped he might make it to the far side of the city and find him at his home. Not far down the hill, a tire blew on the old car. Visions of disaster flooded his mind. All was lost. Then he saw that he was in front of the headquarters of a sister agency. He climbed the stairs and related his story of disaster to his good friend, Dave, who quickly replied that Lucien, the very man he needed to find, had just left the office not ten minutes earlier. He was located in time and the disaster averted. All because of a blown-out tire.

  32. In Sicily they say: “non ogni male viene per nuocere” – it roughly translates as : not every evil is there to hurt you! There’s is always a hidden good somewhere – yes, the pony in the manure! Love that image, thanks Kristen, for sharing!

    My own experience with rejection? Work AROUND it! For two years, I got rejected by agents so I self-published. For one year, no one noticed my books because none fit into any accepted genre. So I decided to invent a new genre to fit my book (at least one of them: A Hook in the Sky)!

    A new genre? Sure, Baby Boomer novels (BB novels) and mind you, it’s not as idiotic as it sounds. Consider: there are some 75 million boomers out there and they want to read novels that concern them, it’s only natural. Hollywood has already taken note (did you see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel this summer, a big hit and a sequel is already in the works!), the publishing industry can’t be far behind, after all, the two are linked! BB novels are an exact pendant of YA, only on the other side of “maturity”: YA deals with coming-of-age, BB with coming-of-old-age, LOL! And it comvers all sub-genres, from comedy to tragedy to thrillers, romance and more!

    Anyone interested can visit the Goodreads Group I set up a month ago (already 95 members) and look at our growing bookshelf (over 20 titles). Here’s the link:

    BB novels or boomer literature is a concept that is being picked up now by the blogosphere, including Passive Guy, the Boomer Café and The Kindle Nation Daily. It’s growing FAST!

    Kristen, do take a look, add your voice and if anyone here has written a BB novel, please let us know about it!

    Happy Boomer Christmas, to you Kristen and all your readers!

  33. Thanks Kristen, some good points about how to handle rejection there, I think the world just isn’t ready for us yet! This is how I handle rejection:

  34. Thank you Kristen! One of the most important lessons I learned in my life is: Every ending is new beginning. I love the way you playfully write and dance to the tune of “Disappointment requires adequate planning.” I don’t want to put my links on your blog – and, when you follow my profile to my blog, you’ll find that I was singing to the same tune 🙂

  35. Reblogged this on The Spidereen Frigate and commented:
    I spend a lot of time being scared of rejection, both in my writing life and in my not-writing life. The choice of pain of rejection vs. pain of mediocrity–well, I can tell you, my doves, mediocrity is worse. Don’t be like me. Fear is the mind killer.

    1. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.

      1. I LOVE that quote. I memorized it and say it to myself during yoga sometimes, LOL.

  36. The hardest part about rejection for me is: Okay, you hated it but what specifically did you hate about it? How can I improve or fix what I obviously didn’t know was broken to begin with. Just sayin’. I just keep plugging away and know that one day, I will get all my ducks in a row and find the right fit for all the puzzle pieces.

  37. This post spoke to me on so many levels, Kristen.
    I’ve been carrying around a weight on my shoulders for months now and it has two words carved upon it: REJECTED and IGNORED!

    I’ve faced one failure after another in the quest to promote my book. I’ve made some valualble contacts – like you, of course – and thye’ve helped steer me in the right direction, but the end result is always the same. There are days that my failaure manifests itself in the form of an ache in my bones, something I’ve never experienced in 42 years of walking this planet.

    Then there are good days, days that renew my hopes and dreams.

    Those are the days that I visit here. Thank you.

  38. Yes. A couple of years ago I had an interview for a part-time job similar to the one I’d been doing. As I had done that job for just over 20 years, I thought I would get it. When I learned I had failed it all, I was devastated (in tears), then I was made redundant. I now see all this as a blessing in disguise, not only because I have got in with writing and building a career out of it, but it has given me the time to relax and find out who I am – that is someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, and is why I failed that interview.

  39. Rejection? Oh, yeaaaahhhh! Been there and done that! But I persevered and wound up with a man who actually gets me! Speaking of agent rejections, I remember my mother — a published writer, herself — taking rejection slips in her stride. Getting my “baby” rejected still sucks, but it allows me the opportunity to grow as a writer.

  40. I have to admit, I just finished my story and now I stand on the brink of this fearsome endeavor of trying to get my novels published. I have all this to look forward to. *shiver*
    But this is an excellent reminder to try for the best – I still remember trying to job-hunt last winter, and applying for a ton of horrible jobs… that I never got hired for. Blessing in disguise? I guess I’ll never know for sure, but sometimes I look at the job I have now and wish I’d been more picky about where I apply. I don’t want to end up sending my book to someone horrible who never helps it shine. Better to fail at the top and work your way down.
    Thanks for the great post!

  41. Needed this today! Thanks so much!

  42. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. Thank you so much for sharing this, and for your generous offer! Definitely retweeting this and putting in on my Link Blitz on Friday. 🙂

  43. Hi, Kristen! I love this post! I reblogged it on I’ve been finding a lot on rejection these days, and reblogging a lot of it with my own thoughts on it. I feal it’s important we learn how to handle failure and rejection, and kids these days are being ‘protected’ from it too much for their ultimate good. It’s a skill not taught in schools, only by experience.

  44. Often it gets the darkest when we are actually doing the right thing. In fact, before every promotion, I know I’ve suffered the worst setbacks. Hey, a new level a new devil. Just count on it. Life is all about choices and success comes from how we interpret failure. Is it a tombstone or a stepping stone?

    So, the next time it feels like life is using you for a punching bag, the next time you fail or face rejection, just think: With all this horse#$%@, there has GOT to be a pony in here somewhere!
    I found the text quoted above a little ironic when I read it. See, I haven’t exactly been having a banner week. First my sister and my husband got in a huge fight, and now she won’t talk to me. Then I spent the weekend listening to my two toddlers throw temper tantrums. No matter what I did, they just weren’t happy. I don’t know whether to blame the flu they were getting over or the terrible twos, but either way, it made for a long weekend. Then last night on my way home from work, I hit a deer. It may or may not have totaled my van. On the bright side, now we have a bunch more meat for our freezer, but still. I’d like to have my van back in one piece.

    You can imagine my reaction when I read your last paragraph (see above).

    Here’s hoping I find my pony SOON! 😀

  45. Such pain in a rejection form letter! So I pouted for a bit, and then started editing. Thanks for the reminder to keep moving forward.

  46. Good thoughts on a difficult subject that all writers face.

  47. Awesome post! I’ve linked and mentioned you on my blog!

  48. I went into college KNOWING, deep down in my blood, that not only was I a damn good performer, costumer, designer, director – basically a guru at everything theatre – but that this was what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

    After two semesters of nearly dying (literally and metaphorically) of stress, illness, failure in my classes, frustration, hatred toward everyone around me, being pushed to my physical and mental limits, weight gain, and debilitating suicidal tendencies, I had never been more heartbroken. My dream had been crushed, because I knew that for survival purposes, I simply couldn’t do it any longer, and no more took joy from the thing I had once loved. More than that, though there were plenty of things I was moderately good at, there was nothing else I had enjoyed doing. My pride and self-worth were utterly soured.

    But during that time, even as I began to realize I couldn’t call myself a theatre person any longer, I began to do something else. I found a friend, and we began writing stories, all sorts of stories that transported me from my frustrated lifestyle. I began experimenting with written forms, revisited the possibility of poetry, and read a couple books about writing.

    When I changed schools and majors, I knew. Since that moment, I have been a writer.

    Without that crushing failure, I never would have found my true calling. After my change of majors and career paths, I found people telling me how I had always seemed more like a writer than a theatre person all along (“Then why didn’t you say so?!” I wondered – but then again, I was and still am too stubborn to listen to advice anyway). So now I get to draw on that theatrical creativity, dabble in drama on the side, all while doing what I love most – writing!

  49. One of the things that encourages me is reading about rejections that were received by well-known authors and award-winning books. ALL great writers have been rejected! Even a best-seller is no guarantee against future rejections. We are in good company!

    Orson Scott Card had his multiple award-winning novel “Ender’s Game” rejected numerous times before Ben Bova at Tor sent it back asking for a revision. Card made the suggested change, and his writing career was launched.

    Another favorite of mine is the rejection letter received by Ursula LeGuin for “Left Hand of Darkness” which went on to win many awards. She is now recognized as a Grand Master of science fiction and fantasy.

    A great site that reproduces this letter, and others for famous authors and works is found at:

    Oh, I was just looking at my newsletter from Writer’s Digest and noticed these two book titles: “No More Rejections” and “The Wealthy Writer.” Draw your own conclusions.

  50. What happens when you realize there isn’t a pony, and the scientists mocking you for your delusion won’t let you out? Then, those who read the scientists’ findings won’t hang out with you because you’re essence reeks of manure? Momentum and hope—ground down and held back long enough—eventually degrade into inertia and mediocrity—the real-life outputs of failed dreams.

    Yeah, I’m in a slump, or it could be that I’ll be starting any day now. 🙂

    • Paige on December 12, 2012 at 12:25 am
    • Reply

    I loved the joke. Thanks.

  51. Great attitude and great advice! Congratulate yourself after a rejection because you put yourself out there in the first place. That was advice from one of my grad school professors and I still follow that.

  52. Rejection has decided it’s easier to leave her slippers and coffee cup at my place.

    It’s OK, though. There’s a lot of good that’s come from her rantings and ravings. Where one door slams, an trap door opens,and I, in my imperfect state of falling behind in what I want to need to accomplish, am quite happy in this state of Under Construction.

    Without rejection, where would I be?

  53. Hey Kristen, you have no idea how badly I needed to read this today. My news came yesterday after weeks of anticipation, an R & R, only to face an “I’m passing.” Ugh, hit me where it hurts!! Thank you for everything you’ve been through and conquered. It’s made you who you are today, so you can help WANAS like me. 🙂

  54. Got a rough rejection from an agent – the kindest thing she said was she “couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to read past page 60.” Ouchy. But iit sent me into the arms of a fantastic freelance editor at TED (…being a total newbie author, I didn’t realize I needed an editor before I got an agent etc. (’cause what the heck’s an editor at a pub house if I need one before that? Ha! I’ve learned a lot since then…) Now my book is drastically changed for the better. Once it’s published, I’m sending that agent a bottle of whiskey as a thank you.

  55. Thank you for this I needed to be re-focused today 🙂

  56. I’ve got a box full of rejection letters printed out under my bed. I save them because they make the acceptances that much more valuable to me. Thanks for this post, Kristen. I really needed it.

  57. I struggled with fear of failure much of my life, and then I looked back and realized all of the times I should have just gone for it. Wasted opportunities! Now I’m okay with failing. In fact, one of the funniest moments was when I told my friends and family I had gotten the BEST REJECTION. It was from an agent I work like to work with who gave a big NO on my book but still said I had talent. (They didn’t understand that rejections could be good.) But like Mark Twain, I lived on that good compliment for a month! And I was doubly-motivated to hone my craft and be good enough.

  58. I like this way of looking at rejection. I, personally, have never taken it to heart as badly as most people. It’s just something that happens and usually I can find something good in it. (He broke up with me? Oh well, he was boring) (Rejected query letter? I probably need to tweak it to make it better) (Didn’t get that job? There’s probably a better one out there).

    Firework is always a great song to listen to when you’re down, too 🙂

  59. Haven’t had to deal with much rejection yet, since I haven’t queried much, but this post helps me prepare for something that is inevitable. I am bookmarking this page to come back to when the tears start welling up. Thank you in advance.

  60. I’m in the query process. You’re words are much needed and appreciated tonight. Can I ask, did you go through the traditional query process to get an agent? Honestly I think the whole process, while painful, has made me a better writer. I just love to hear about people who have actually had success in the process.

    1. No. My first agent I met at a conference and my second agent was a happy accident. I asked a well-known author to blurb my second book. He read my first, loved it and then badgered his agent to look at my work, since he knew I’d fired my first agent and was looking for new representation. Conferences are very helpful for finding an agent, and I can’t recommend them enough.

      1. Exactly what I needed to hear! Now I really just have to polish my pitch!!!! Thank you for your response.

  61. I was just rejected in a competition where there were few participants. Sigh. It really feels like writing is impossible these days.

  62. Just found your blog today, and was drawn to this comment contest. Neat. Now to go back and read all the rest of the blog….

  63. It never amazes me how lucky I’ve been – with jobs, with writing. I was shocked when the very first short story I submitted was accepted for publication years ago. Now I’m anticipating rejection with my first novel – not from agents or publishers, because I’ve chosen to self-publish – but from friends and colleagues. I wonder how they’ll react when they buy my book and don’t like it! I know some won’t. I expect that. But will they feel weird around me? Will they not want to tell me they think my book sucks? Is it odd to have these kind of feelings?

  64. As you said, rejection has some positive indications too, I do believe it. Rejection might show us what is our lacking, then we can enhance our competency accordingly. Also there are some situations where rejection might cause a big depression, especially when we deserve the applied position. It’s a part of our life. None can expect all the position he or she applied for. Thanks for your well-researched article.

  65. I have written all my life, though mostly for my own amusement. Recently, this year in fact, I started sharing my writing with others.

    My article submissions have been published in a writers association newsletter several months this year–every time I remember to get the article in by the deadline for publication. It is a newsletter for writers run by writers. Although it is a great thrill to be published, I often wonder if my work is published merely because I submitted it, or was it good enough to beat out someone else’s work.

    Placement of my article began very low within the newsletter. However, the last article I submitted was placed way at the top, right below the association’s president’s article in fact. Is that some indication of the quality of my work, or just an editor’s whim?

    In the coming year I will begin to submit articles for pay as I gear up toward trying to market my novel manuscript to agents and publishers. I expect there to be rejections and I will try not to take them personally, but rather keep on writing and submitting.

    After all, JK Rowling didn’t get published by the first or even tenth publisher she submitted her work to. She didn’t give up and neither will I.

    Happy New Year all!!

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