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Rejection is everywhere: we break up, we get fired, we lose friends—and we survive them all—yet, when our art is rejected, many feel completely defeated, and they never get out there again. This saddens me. This is how art dies.
Rejection happens to everyone, and, if it hasn’t already, it will happen to you—but you cannot let criticism get you down.
In terms of the writing industry, many writers, professional or not, already know about the long-hated query letter. My favorite metaphor for writing one is the ballerina having to explain why she can dance instead of showing off her abilities. However, whether we like it or not, we have to face the reality of the query eventually.
In the future, I plan on posting about how to write an effective one, but there are plenty of posts like that out there. Instead, I wanted to share one of my favorite blogs that handles rejection: Rejection Love Letters (Or How to Lose Agents and Alienate Publishers)
John Tompkins is a writer trying to get his book published. Currently, he’s sent out 93 queries, and he’s received 36 rejections—all of which are scanned for fellow readers and writers to see. Not only is this brave, but it’s encouraging. I say this because Tompkins does something I’ve never seen done before: he translates the rejection letters into a love rejection, causing the normally petrifying letters to morph into humorous material.
For instance, “Love Letter #28” is a rejected letter he titles, “In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m calling this one: If I’m not busy, I’ll call you.”
Immediately, I’m in a fit of laughter, but I’m also astounded by Tompkins ability to shift rejection into humorous determination in order to move forward. This attitude is one of the most positive things I’ve seen from a writer in a long time. It’s a beautiful way of looking at an aspect of the publishing industry where many lose themselves.
So—in terms of this—I find John Tompkins to be a wonderful and daily reminder of how to be positive about something that can be extremely upsetting. Perhaps you can think of query rejections like rejections of love—“Find someone who loves you just the way you are” (Love Letter #34)—and remain positive as you move forward.
As Richard Bach said, “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit,” and we can all learn from Tompkins’ positive perspective to continue moving forward in the journey of our successful dreams.
Never give up!