It’s Not Me, It’s You

Rejection.

There is little in this world that hurts more than rejection in all its forms.

The break-up, I’m not even going to touch upon. Why bother when so much has already been written on the subject. No, I’m thinking on all the little rejections we face from the time we are born. The times as a tiny infant we cried and no one came. The times we weren’t picked for a game. The teachers who favored others first. The jobs we didn’t get. All the times we were looked past and yes, the boys or girls we didn’t get.

I think I’ve always felt I placed near the top of the pack in many things. Near, but never at the top. Doing well, but not the stand-out. Like in the Great British Baking Show in the early weeks when several hover in the middle. Not Star-Baker, but not going home either. Mentioned in the tent during Paul and Mary’s musings as having done something well enough to stay but not in the limelight.

Near the top isn’t a bad place to be. In fact, most of the time it’s a preferred spot. Safe. Respected. Less pressure.

It isn’t a bad place to be unless you want the spotlight.

I’m a writer. I’ve written three novels, three collections of short stories and a self-help book. I want these works in the spotlight. Somewhere in the pack in this industry means available for purchase but rarely seen by the public. It means I write books that nobody reads.

Somewhere in the pack isn’t good enough.

Eleven weeks ago I submitted a novel. Diligently, I followed the publisher on Twitter, both before and after the submission. Followed not in some creepy, stalkish way but to educate myself. I learned the submission process was taking up to twelve weeks and the longer it took, the better the chances it was being considered. As the weeks ticked by, I searched my inbox several times a day, relieved to not get the dreaded rejection.

Then, last night, at eleven weeks and one day, I got the e-mail. The form letter, thanks but no thanks. Heartbreak. If you’ve never put yourself out there in the same or a similar way, you don’t know the pain of being told you’re not good enough. But then, maybe it’s the same pain as every time we’re told we’re not good enough.

Rejection. Is it any wonder I probably tried to protect my children too much from rejection. It’s a tricky business knowing the balance between enough to learn healthy coping skills and the tipping point that overwhelms and leads to dysfunction.  I know, as my mother often told me, I’m too sensitive. Rejection creates a burning hole in my heart that in my older adult life is tamped down by tears, yelling, swearing and vowing to make good. Tamps down the fire, but has as of yet, never extinguished it.

So, today, I re-evaluate. What I submitted was written to their specifications. I don’t do that well. I have to tell my stories in my own way. Not that I reject the submitted story. But, if I hadn’t been fettered by their vision, there were things I would have written differently.

Rejection creates internal narratives. For some it’s the spark that drives them on. For others it’s the reason they can’t get out of bed. For me, it’s both.

My internal narrative tells me my tagline is – I write books that nobody reads. Another tells me, I write books that nobody reads – yet.

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