Today’s post is written by Tamara D. Fickas.
The Writing Life can be a hard life sometimes. Well, maybe a lot of times; especially these days when agents and publishers are inundated with submissions. The competition is fierce and even good writers and great writers experience the dreaded rejection letter. It can be disheartening even though we all know it’s part of the job.
The past two weeks I have been gimping around with a muscle in my shoulder that is in massive spasm. This has resulted in incredible pain and three agonizing days off work at my day job. Even writing has been a distant dream during this time.
Last week while I was off work I spent most of the time on my couch drifting in and out of a pain medication induced sleep while different shows rambled on the TV. My shows of choice lately have been crime dramas like NCIS and Law and Order, but one day I couldn’t find any of my go-to shows so I settled on The Waltons.
Some of you may know The Waltons, but for others, it may be before your time. For those of you who don’t know the show it is set in the Great Depression and follows the life of a large family in Virginia. John-Boy Walton, played by Richard Thomas (and one of my pre-teen crushes), is a young man who aspires to be a writer. The episodes usually start and end with him narrating as he writes about the happenings in the family.
One episode I saw last week made an impression even though I can’t remember all the details. It starts out with John-Boy sending off an article to a magazine and waiting. Meanwhile, life happens and he gets focused on something else and forgets about waiting for the answer to his submission.
At the end of the show the letter finally comes and it is a rejection. Surrounded by his family he stuffs it in his back pocket and says something like, “Oh well, maybe it wasn’t good enough anyway.” But his mother (or father. Again, I can’t remember thanks to the painkiller I was on last week) pulls the letter out and reads it.
They respond to John-Boy, “It says that the article was good, but doesn’t meet their current needs. That means it doesn’t meet their needs right now, but maybe next month their needs will change and it will be right.”
The show ends with John-Boy at his desk writing in his journal. His voice again narrates as he writes. He marvels at the way his family handled the rejection slip and wrote, “My family treated my first rejection slip as a victory.”
The wisdom of those words still ring true. Writers face rejection slips. There are many reasons that agents or editors reject a work. Many of them have nothing to do with poorly written manuscripts. We need to remember that just because it doesn’t meet their needs now, it may later, or it may meet another publisher’s current needs.
Don’t let the fear of rejection hold you back. The victory is in continuing in your pursuit. Keep submitting. Rejection isn’t failure; the only failure is to give up on your talent before God has used it for His purpose.