Today I have the privilege and honor to introduce Erin Feldman. She graciously accepted an open invitation to my ghost-in-the post series. You can find Erin at http://www.factotumep.com. She is a very interesting and entertaining writer; it is certainly worth your time to pay her a visit. Also, please take the time to enjoy her post and feel free to leave comments as well.
When I’m not writing web copy, authoring blog posts, or consulting with clients, I write poetry. No, it’s not the poetry found in high school diaries. I’m not sure what kind of poetry it is, but it isn’t that. Poetry is serious stuff in my world. It’s something to be written, studied, and critiqued, which is something I did in grad school and continue to do.
Although I’m serious about poetry, I haven’t been too dedicated about getting my work published. My attitude changed this year, and I’ve decided I need to live up to my “poet” status. I’m more than a little concerned about that decision; I know the costs of making it. Submitting work is hard, not only because of the time spent writing, editing, and selecting poems but also because of those dreadful things known as rejection letters.
Rejection letters hurt, although not as much as they once did. I suppose I’ve matured some since receiving my first one. I’ve learned things about myself and developed coping mechanisms. For instance, even though I’m a writer, that’s only one component of my identity. If that part of me is rejected for one reason or another, I can recoup. I can write again.
I also refuse to dwell on the question of what I did wrong despite my proclivity to do so. The truth is that I might not have not done anything wrong. Writing is such a subjective thing that rejection is to be expected. My writing isn’t going to please everyone, and it’s foolish to try. I would lose myself in such an enterprise.
I choose to have a sense of humor about the letters, too. Most of the time, they’re generic form letters so filled with “fluff” that I wonder if I’m supposed to take them seriously. My most recent rejection letter almost was a page long. Why? The editors could have told me in three to five sentences what they told me in three to five paragraphs. Do they truly think people read lengthy rejection letters? Do they believe that extraneous words will make people feel better about being rejected and about themselves? Once I’ve been informed that my submission has been rejected, I rarely read the rest of the letter. My work has been rejected, and, despite my efforts to separate the writing from myself, I’ve been rejected, too. I’m going to feel dejected. I’m not going to be in the mood to read a lengthy missive that attempts to make me feel better about myself.
I wish the lessons learned from receiving rejection letters translated easily into other areas of life. It’s one thing to have my writing rejected; it’s another to be rejected – often without rhyme or reason – by another person. It’s much harder not to dwell on the “what did I do wrong” question. It’s next to impossible to have a sense of humor about the rejection. The identity issue is much more problematic. I have been rejected, not my writing, not a business proposal. All of that is true, and yet, the possible responses to that rejection are the same: I can indulge my hurt feelings – and I might do that for a while – or I can dust myself off and try again.
How do you deal with rejection? Is it easier to be rejected in one area of life than another? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Erin Feldman is the CEO and founder of factotum llc., a company that provides social media consultation and writing and editing services for websites, blogs, and social networks. When she isn’t busy with either of those two things, she’s pondering new ideas for her own blog, which usually involves some sort of collision between literature, writing, entrepreneurship, and social media; writing poetry; or drawing. Erin has her MFA in creative writing and her BA in English and graphic design.