Monday, June 3, 2013

Picture Book Workshop #16: Rejection

Do you know why there are fire drills at school?  They have fire drills so that people know what to do when things go wrong.

We should have something similar in the writing/publishing world.  A rejection drill of sorts.  Because you're going to get rejected.  OH YEAH YA ARE!

And it blows.  Hard.  Every time.

But we all go through it.  Here's what happens to me.

My first stage is what I like to call "The Bagger Stage," and it's where I feel so useless, stupid, and untalented that I feel my only line of future employment will be bagging groceries.* 

*(Sorry.  I know I just insulted anyone who bags groceries for a living.  All I can say in my defense is that when I was younger, one of my first day jobs was temping at a store where I had to bag items all day.  It was OK at first but soon grew mind-numbingly dull.  It's kind of my personal employment low point.)

This is a natural phase.  It's really difficult to put a piece of your art out there to be judged and have it come back rejected.  Really, really hard.  And, in writing, most of the time you have put a tremendous amount of time and energy into a project before you send it out into the world.

So go ahead.  Have an hour or a day of pity.  Feel the sorrow.  (Make notes b/c you might need that in your writing someday.)  Except that YOU'LL NEVER WRITE AGAIN because you're so, so awful!!!

Now, my phase one usually last a few hours.  Then I listen to one of my kick-butt songs like Cee Lo's Forget You or Titanium by David Guetta featuring Sia.  That's wWen I work my way into Phase Two: The SUCK IT Phase.

The Suck It Phase can be kind of awesome.  It's very empowering.  Basically you think you're more kick-ass and smarter than everyone else and they can suck it.  Even though that's not true, it's important to feel this way because you need to build yourself back up and telling the world to suck it really helps.  At least it does for me.

When I've calmed down from my injustice/rage/superiority complex, then I morph back into my normal, rational, writer-ly form.  My Julie form.  I step back.  I look at the situation objectively.  Maybe my book is out with 8 publishers and I haven't heard back form 4 yet.  There's still hope.  Maybe I received some criticism I can look at it more clearly.  My sub-conscience might have been working out an issue in a story.  I'll have fresh ideas.  

Now I'm in Phase Three: Back-in-the-Saddle Phase.

I think if you truly are a writer, you'll always return to this phase.  People who are creative will always create, even if there's no money, even if there's no acceptance.  They have to.  I have to.

But, yanno, you have to let yourself feel bad and mad and sad and all the "ad" words when you get bad news because you're not a robot.  You're an artist.  And the bonus of being an artist when you feel bad/mad/sad/glad is that you can use all of it.  Nothing goes to waste.  So keep that in mind.  But here's a couple other important things to help you cope:

One.  It happens to all of us. 

and Two - in the case of book publishing - you only need one YES.

(Anyone else want to add a SUCK IT song to the list?  I'd love to know what you do to perk yourself up.)


Mirka Breen said...

Not only do I love this post, I *adore* the illustrations. Let me know if I can use them (with glowing attributions to your post, of course) anywhere. Fabulous.

Katie L. Carroll said...

Ack, rejection is so hard. I've shared my feelings about rejection on my blog as well. You totally nailed the phases! (Love the suck it phase...totally gonna add that to my vernacular).

Julie_c said...

Thanks guys - we've certainly all been through it.

Mirka, you have my permission to use those illos. Attribute to J. C. Phillipps, please.

Lucia Sasaki said...

Hi Julie, thanks for your
Well, I am not a writer but I make blankbooks in my free time and I know that I would be so shy in offering them to some stores. Imagine that a acquaintance of mine offered herself to try to selling them in a fair last month and I became so happy because I myself wouldn't have this courage.
And true, rejection always stings and hurts.
Thanks so much for this installment.
And, of course, your illustrations are beautiful. Congratulations!!

Lucia Sasaki said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
oil painting for sale said...

looks like for adult, can I share this book with my 12-year-old son?

Julie_c said...

Oil Painting - I'm not sure what you're referring to. My actual books are all picture books for children. This post is simply a blog post about handling rejection in the publishing world.

Thanks Lucia for your comment. Always so nice to hear form you.