Dealing with rejection

by MDY

Rejection is the norm. When I started out as a writer-for-hire, I used to send out at least ten cover letters a week for different freelance gigs and odd jobs I’d spied. Sometimes that number was closer to ten a day. Each letter was carefully tailored to the specifics of the opportunity (not “I saw your ad”, but “I saw your ad on Craigslist“), accompanied by a copy of my somewhat embellished yet obviously anorexic curriculum vitae and a pro forma offer to complete a test assignment completely gratis. My knowledge of Latin did not win me any favours. For every hundreds of letters I sent out in the course of three years, I was offered about seven or eight assignments of note. Out of those, I was paid meaningful sums (read: more than $2) for about four. The process taught me that talent can only get you so far. It also taught me to write a damn fast cover letter.

Rejection will crush your dreams. At the venerable age of 16¾, I sent out manuscripts of my novel to dozens of publishers, all of whom replied months later with form letters politely declining my work. I eventually realised that this was because it was total crap. Unfortunately, by this stage this novel had consumed 1825 hours of my life, 192 hours of my mentors’ lives, and the mass of a small Polynesian forest in paper and stamps. I didn’t want to write novels after that. So I wrote short stories. I sent them to cultured people and received more polite form letters. But when other dreams came calling, I was ready to chase them. Ideally, rejection not only crushes your dreams but your fear of failing them.

Rejection makes no sense. Just over a year ago I was quite sweet on this girl just as (I later found out) she was quite sweet on me. Then she hooked up with another guy because I hadn’t been forceful enough about being sweet on her. About six months ago, I was quite sweet on this other girl who was (rather obviously) quite sweet on me. Then she told me things wouldn’t work between us because I had been too forceful about being sweet on her. I’m still single. But I say “sweet on” because it sounds humorous and of the halcyon – which is how I want to remember those times, not all bitter and cheated like an Internet meme.

Sometimes hope works, or loud words, or the embrace of a special person. And sometimes they don’t. Personally, I deal with it in any way I can.