This post, by James Scott Bell, originally appeared on Right-Writing.
The writer Barnaby Conrad tells the story of a matador, all decked out in his "suit of lights," talking to a group of reporters outside the arena.
One reporter asks, "How did you happen to become a bullfighter?"
The matador replied, "I took up bullfighting because of the uncertainty of being a writer."
Truth be told, many of us would rather face the horns of an angry bull than another rejection letter. At least we can run away from the bull!
But for a writer, rejection goes with the territory. There is no way we can avoid it. There are ways, however, to keep it from becoming a poison, something that makes us want to curl up and quit. Here are a few things to keep in mind about rejection:
1. Rejection is not personal
Rejection of your manuscript is not a rejection of you as a person, or as a writer. It is only a rejection of a piece of writing you have turned out.
That makes a difference. You can always grow as a writer. Always. You can learn from your setbacks. If you stick to it, you will get better. So the rejection of a piece of writing is not saying anything about your potential.
A rejection says one of two things. Either a piece isn’t right for the publisher at that time, or it is not up to their standards. The first is something you can’t change; the second you can. You do it by learning to write better.
If, for some strange reason, someone were to tell you that you personally don’t have what it takes, you can be sure that someone is off his or her nut. How can anyone predict your future? Writing is a learned craft. People can learn how to write. No one has the capacity to tell you that you are the exception to the rule.
An obscure editor once told a future Nobel Prize winner: "I’m sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language." Rudyard Kipling we remember. The editor no one can recall.
Writer Ron Goulart said, "Never assume that a rejection of your stuff is also a rejection of you as a person. Unless it’s accompanied by a punch in the nose."
2. Rejection happens to the best