I'm not afraid of much, but I've feared rejection my whole life.
Logically, I realize that rejection is a part of being a writer; it's something we must all endure on the path to success. But knowing that doesn't lessen the sting any. No matter how many times people tell you that a rejection isn't personal, it's hard not to take it as such when it's happening to you.
It doesn't help that two of the definitions for "reject" in the dictionary are:
- to discard as useless or unsatisfactory
- to cast out or eject; vomit
Seriously. "Vomit." I realize that particular definition pertains more to a bodily function than a "no thank you", but it's still a harsh thing to think about.
Maybe it would be easier for me to deal with rejection if I were to view it as simply a difference of opinion: I like my work, but the agent (or reader) doesn't. I realize this is the concept that people try to share when they say "don't take it personally," but that phrase doesn't soften the blow quite like "difference of opinion" does.
I can easily accept opinions that don't mesh with my own; to each his/her own, and all that. So if I start to view a rejection as a mere difference of opinion, maybe that will help lessen the sting. Or will it still hurt because of the inherent need for validation that we all have? Is it the rejection itself that hurts, or is it the way in which the dismissal is delivered? Would my ego feel less bruised if someone explained why they didn't like my book, rather than sending me an impersonal "Thanks, but no thanks", or worse, no reply at all?
Maybe seeing the reasons my work has been refused would help me to understand said rejection better, and grow as a writer. For instance, if the issue is with syntax or grammar, that's information I could use to make the book better. If it's more that someone didn't like my protagonist, I'd be able to decide if I want to change that or not.
Granted, the bitter pill of "no thanks" might not taste that good - no matter what reason was given - but I still think I'd rather know the reasons behind a rejection than to receive some impersonal non-response.