How do you handle rejection?

I know, it is part of life. I get that. And it is typically a large part of a writer’s life. I get that too. Every writer you’ve ever heard of was rejected and rejected and rejected before working through a small publication, then a larger one, and then a big book deal. Except for the rare overnight success, most of whom had enough rejections to paper a small room before being suddenly discovered.
Me, I work in the garden.
It seems a better reaction than drinking, howling down a country lane on a fast Ducati, or skinning my knuckles in the garage. I save those activities for happy times.
The thing is, I’m starting to like gardening. You can anticipate my dilemma.
Today Stanford University announced the 2015 Stegner Fellows and I wasn’t on the list. I had already scoped out rental units in Palo Alto. I figured a small seasonal unit with use of garage space and easy access to the twisty country lanes east of the Bay City would do the trick. I’d bring an air cooled carbureted Duc from back in the day- or maybe find a long forgotten one in a weather-beaten barn. I’d buy one of those new fangled Apple Macbooks that weigh 2 pounds and slip into a neoprene pouch slung over my shoulder. I’d hit the twisties and then find a quiet pub off the main drag. And with a warm stout and the white noise of Northern California subculture I’d write the great Canadian/American novel. I’d retune the carburetors another day.
But I wasn’t on the list.
I know, 1,700/1 isn’t great odds (applicants/awards). But I passed ambition 101 and I thought I was in.
So today I didn’t ride my bike, work in the garage, or nurse a beer through the character study of my latest protagonist. But the sun is shining, the price of Apple products is predictably falling, and well, the garden looks great.

7 thoughts on “How do you handle rejection?

  1. Shel….face it buddy, you’re just ahead of the curve (or in motorcycle terms….you’re hitting the apexes while others are still putting their leathers on)….like much in life, I suspect writing is 96% perspiration, 2% inspiration and 2% persistence. Keep on keeping on…. we love you man!!

  2. Hey Sheldon. It’s good to hear your (writing) voice again. Before very recently I had been AWOL from the blogging space for six-ish months in an attempt to examine what I had been doing there while in a struggle to decide what I should have been doing. Needless to say, I managed zero writing, not even of the casual sort entailed by a post like yours above – an update on progress (mental or by keyboard).

    Needless to say, what you’re doing – writing, in any mode or variety – is how to buoy the raft on your voyage to that island you seek. And as you expressed in your post, that island will arrive unforeseen, for almost everyone. Which is itself cause for hope, even optimism; you aren’t struggling against an impossible current to reach a silhouette visible but far, far out of reach. The island can and will emerge from beneath you as long as you’re still head above water, and can appreciate it. I believe in you, and you can trust me on that because I am unashamed to say I don’t believe in everyone I had read coming through the program with us. It’s up to writers to instill belief for themselves in others, and not everyone does, or does at the same time. But you did. I know you’ll be published, but I, like you, don’t and can’t know when.

    If you carry your momentum out of the degree you’ll be in a much better place than I have found myself in, which is out of the water almost entirely. Despite having the drive to hit the ground running straight off of graduation, having a large body of work behind me that only required revisions or rewrites (little work compared to the conception and initial realization of the stories themselves) I was hit hard with the shock of no longer having peers at my disposal, nor mentors. And until I can tap into a collective again that offers that my voyage is going to be rougher than I’d wish on any writer, let alone myself.

    The point is, you have consistent and sincere support here (you need only peruse your comments section), you have a level-headed determination in spite of setbacks, and most importantly, you’re writing. More than most writers in similar positions can probably claim. In lieu of that the island may just be the hypothetical cherry on the cake already before you.

    (P.S. send me writing @ my email any time)

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