I feel that the craft of writing is all about rejection. Even if you write only for yourself, the element of rejection is present in the editing process, as you choose what to cut out, what to keep, and what to change. And even before that, rejection is pervasive in the writing process, as you choose to say this over that, and you continuously decide to go with this word over that word. You are rejecting your own work before it even gets read by anybody else. This is all rejection, though at a personal level.
But isn’t all rejection personal? Nothing feels more personal than to have your writing rejected by a publisher, an anonymous reader, or even an intimate lover. Rejection saturates writing like water in a sponge.
What this means then is that writing is about constantly facing a fear that most of us consciously and unconsciously hide from. Nobody likes rejection, but no matter what you do, who you are, or who you know, you will experience rejection—and few will experience it as much or as harshly as a writer.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that eventually you grow numb to criticism, and you are able to shake it off with a smirk. Sure, it still stings like a thousand bees on your eyeball to read a negative review of your work, but try to remember this: There is something worse than somebody saying you’re the worst writer in the universe, and that is nobody saying anything about your work. If somebody left a nasty review, I see two positive things: One, somebody is reading your writing, and two, your writing is so provocative that it inspired somebody to take time out of their life to comment on what you have written.
Call me sentimental, but I see that as a great thing. So don’t take negative reviews too seriously. That’s why I leave myself one-star ratings on my books, because I’m not playing the five-star popularity game.
I scoff at a reader who thinks he can knock the scaffold that supports my self-esteem out from under me by downrating my book, and to prove it I beat him to the worst possible rating imaginable by assigning it to myself in the first place.
And honestly, I am more interested in hearing about you as a person than hearing what you think about my work. What you think about my writing, either good or bad, doesn’t enhance or take away anything from my work. All literature stands alone and aloof to criticism. Calling Oscar Wilde a genius won’t make his words any more brilliant. They exist above and beyond commentary on them.
Same goes for the anti-Oscar Wilde. Criticism of a work doesn’t make it better or worse, so keep that in mind for your next negative review. When the negative reviews come, and they most certainly will, remember that they don’t change your words one bit. The only person that can change your words is you, and that’s what you did when you first began the rejection process with the open Word document. You made choices that made you happy, and nobody else can take that from you.
Nobody can rain on my parade, because I march alone. In the desert. Under an umbrella. You should try it sometime, because it’ll dehydrate your fear of rejection.