He Embraced Rejection Because the only way to Avoid Rejection: Don’t Create Anything

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Stephen King said something akin to write a million words and you’ll be an expert at writing. That’s a paraphrase, not a quote. I wasn’t sitting on the porch drinking a beer with him. Unfortunately.

Point is, using that as a measuring stick, I’m an expert on rejection. I spend the vast majority of my adult life getting rejected.

My day job as a copywriter usually includes a client asking something like this from last week: “Is this part supposed to be funny? We don’t want to be funny. Do this over.”rejected

My night job as a basketball referee brings rejection in a less polite form. The phrases there are more like “What game are you watching?” Also, the more direct “you suck.”

My dream job, writing fiction, is close to 100% rejection. So far. Agents and editors differ from basketball fans in how they say you suck, but ultimately, the message is the same. They’ll claim the delivered message deviates from the received message, but ask any writer and they’ll tell you the bottom line is still rejection.

[“We are defined by how well we rise after falling.” ]

You might think all this rejection is rough on a person’s psyche, but I’m here to tell you otherwise. Oddly, it makes you bolder. Rejection no longer bothers me. It has become such a common occurrence, it’s easy to overcome. I even have fun with it now. I’ve taken to translating my own response to rejection. Couple examples of what I’m talking about:

This, from my day job as I sat with a client in the back room behind a one-way mirror during a focus group.

Focus group attendee (reviewing my copy): This sounds like somebody trying to be clever but they don’t know how to do it.

Me (to my client sitting beside me): That guy? Not your target market. That’s the exact response we want outta him. This is going well.

Translation: I’ll get that guy’s name and make sure he doesn’t get invited back next time. Might even toss him out during the break.

Or this from the other night on the basketball court:

Coach: Why wasn’t that a foul?

Me: Yeah, I mighta missed that one, coach. Better luck next time.

Translation: You guys play such a boring style of basketball, I can’t reward you for it.

It’s kind of a fun game. Give it a try. Reject somebody who doesn’t understand your wisdom, and then figure out what you’d really like to tell them.

So where is all this rejection talk leading? Right here, of course. To this: I’m going to turn the tables around and start rejecting stuff. Seems more fun on the other side of this equation. So that’s going to be my new blog feature. Rejection. First up: meatloaf.

You might think I’d start right now, but I’m gonna reject that idea. (See what I did there? I’m just gettin’ warmed up.) Come back for more. Or reject me in the comments. You might have to get in line, but it won’t bother me a bit.

4 thoughts on “He Embraced Rejection Because the only way to Avoid Rejection: Don’t Create Anything

  1. I feel rejected. Wink.

    This reminds me of the month of May when I learned how to say no. Or the groom who told his fiancé at the alter, that his dog came before her. He walked out of the church. She was rich and cute. I don’t know what his problem was. He wasn’t my fiancé, thank the heavens. Some guy I met in art school.


    1. Angie, if you offer a course in How to Say No, I might have to sign up. I never seem able to utter that syllable. I’m intrigued by the groom putting his bride in the #2 slot. Is there a link for that story? Otherwise, I’ll have to make up my own. Maybe in 100 words one of these weeks, so thanks for that!


  2. You’ve got a healthier attitude about rejection than a lot of folks. Like me for instance.

    I’ve probably suffered depression – I mean a bonafide, real depression once in my life. I lost weight. I cried while on my runs. I was pure tee miserable. For weeks. This was about twenty or so odd years ago.

    When the third book I’d written went out on submission last year, and was promptly rejected within four days by the ONE editor I thought I stood a chance with, I could feel myself tipping into that direction I’d traveled twenty years before. I was just about to enter FUNKLAND. I said nothing to my husband, but I knew if that f***ing book didn’t sell, my usual laid back, cheery self was about to morph into DARKZILLA.

    But that didn’t have to happen. You know the rest of the story.

    Rejection is so hard to deal with. I like your idea, John! Reject-O-Matic. 🙂


  3. I Soooooooo know where you’re coming from, Donna. I think my wife lives in fear of my next rejection letter based on how I used to be. But I’ve come to grips with things a little. Not entirely, but partially. And I realize there’s something much worse than rejection: regret. Rejection is affirmation that I gave it a shot. Regret comes if I wonder what would’ve happened if I’d tried. I’ve made it so I won’t have to suffer regret. Now I just have to bounce back from rejection and use the energy for something useful.

    Still so excited for your upcoming book. Gotta feel incredible.

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