I’ve been thinking hard about why the rejection from the University hurt so much and what that means for me and it occurs to me that I am particularly sensitive to rejection.
Now anyone who knows me knows that I get rejected a lot. You’d think that I’d be used to it by now and that I wouldn’t care but I clearly do. In fact the more I think about it the more sure I am that I care a lot. I’ve been assuming that my problem is a fear of failure combined with chronic laziness but I now realize that I’m not lazy at all and I’m scared of something else.
Look at my record at NaNoWriMo. If I was scared of failure then why did I ever try? Why did I keep going when it got tough? If I’m lazy then why pick something that’s such hard work? Why do I relish the work? Why did I seek out the extra challenge of becoming Municipal Liaison? NaNoWriMo is like an exam. You either pass or fail. You either hit 50,000 words in time or you don’t and it’s entirely up to you. Success or failure is not subjective, you can’t be judged by other people and they can’t take it away from you.
I like exams and tests and puzzles. Maybe I like them because they can’t reject me. Either I’m right or I’m wrong. Either pass or fail. I succeed or fail because of my ability. It doesn’t matter what I look like or how I dress or who I know or my social ineptitude or my past failures or successes.
But writing isn’t a test. The quality of writing is almost entirely subjective. I love the work of William Gibson but my husband, who has very similar tastes, can’t stand him and that’s the problem. Even the best writers get rejected. They get rejected a lot before they find the right agent/publisher. And you don’t find an agent/publisher unless you put your work out there ready for rejection.
I think this is the real reason I’ve never finished any of my novels to my own satisfaction. It they were finished I’d have to send them off for someone to reject. And reject. And then reject some more. And because rejection is so common I wouldn’t even be able to throw the towel in and say “That’s it. I’m a terrible writer.”
So how do I deal with this fear? How can I truly be a writer when I can’t bare to send my work out to face rejection?