By Brenda Anderson
A word most writers are intimately familiar with, a word filled with negative connotations. Merriam-Webster defines rejection as “the action of rejecting: the state of being rejected.” Sounds depressing, doesn’t it? In the midst of rejection, it’s difficult to find something positive, but I assure you, there is an upside.
We learn from rejection: You’ve just received an email rejection form an editor, and you’re feeling down about it. That’s fine. That’s normal even, so don’t discount your feelings. Give it a day or two, then go back to that letter. Did the editor make it personal? Did they explain why it was rejected? If yes, then you’ve just been given a gift! They thought enough about your manuscript to take time and give you feedback. Take that knowledge and apply it.
But what about the form rejection letter? I look at that as God’s way of telling me, “Not that door.” So, it’s time to move on and try the next door.
Rejection helps us practice obedience: As Christians, writing is a calling. We’re not promised best-seller status. We’re not even promised publication. But if we’re being obedient, that obedience will bear fruit, often in ways we’ll never know. Yes, it can be hard to push through those rejections, but if we do, we will be rewarded. I keep Philippians 3:13-14 above my desk at all times as a motivator. “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Making Lemon Cheesecake out of Lemons: Yes, rejection does tend to leave a sour taste in your mouth, but you can sweeten it. When my children were young I sold Christmas Around the World products as an in-home party plan. In order to sell our products, I had to convince people to host a party. One motivator the company gave us was to collect No’s, and they even had a contest to see who could collect the most No’s. The belief was that in between all those No’s, we would hear Yes’s. I applied that same philosophy to writing, and made it a goal to collect 100 No’s. I believed that before I reached 100, I would hear a Yes. And that Yes came after 30+ No’s when Winslet Press offered me a four-book contract!
Perseverance becomes our testimony: One word friends and peers used when I informed them of my contract signing was Perseverance. It humbled me because I’d never considered myself as persistent, yet that’s what others saw. A few weeks back, I was interviewed at a women’s brunch at our church. One question the moderator asked was, “Was there ever a time you wanted to give up?” My answer was something like this, “With 30+ rejections? Oh yeah! And I prayed often about it, asking for permission to quit trying for publication. The answer was always, “keep pressing on.” So, in obedience, I did.” It was that question and answer the audience remembered and took to heart, hopefully encouraging them in whatever journey they’re on.
So, yes, rejection isn’t fun, but I’m very grateful for the journey all those rejections sent me on.
Brenda S. Anderson writes gritty, hope-filled fiction. She is currently President of the ACFW Minnesota chapter, MN-NICE. When not reading or writing, she enjoys music, theater, roller coasters, movies, and baseball, and she loves spending time with her family. Brenda blogs regularly and enjoys connecting with readers at www.brendaandersonbooks.com.