Rejecting Rejection

I am the daughter of a Marine aviator.  I have two older brothers who were mean to me in the way older brothers are to younger sisters who want to tag along and do everything they do.   I began my career as a competitive athlete at age five.

I have a tough skin.

I spent twenty years in advertising where my copy was frequently critiqued and rewritten by the wife of one of my clients.  I once had a newspaper editor slash all but ten words of a story.  When my son started preschool at not-quite two, he routinely pushed me out the door when I dropped him off and cried when I came to pick him up.

Really, alligators have nothing on me.

I know rejection is a real issue for some writers – for many writers.  And I’m not trying to make light of this – really I’m not.  I know it’s painful and it’s costly and it makes us wonder if we should be doing something more constructive with our lives.  But here’s the thing . . .

No one ever asked me to become a playwright.

In dark dreary moments, I remind myself that no one ever said, “We can’t live without your brilliant words.”  No one promised me productions or awards or accolades.  I CHOSE this line of work.  And I chose it knowing full well how many theatres are producing new work (not a lot) and how many playwrights are writing new work (gazillions)!  But I decided that creating characters, exploring the human condition, following the “what if . . .” thought to its conclusion was something I wanted to do.  Something I love to do.  Something I don’t know how to stop doing.

Even if no one wants to read it.

Yes, it’s exciting to get my little red SASPs in the mail requesting a full copy of the script.  Yes, it’s great to get a phone call from an Artistic Director who wants to produce my work.  And yes, there is no feeling in the world like a standing ovation.  So those are the moments I cling to when the rejections flood in.  “You don’t know what you’re missing,” I think as I file the letter.  “Someday you’ll produce one of my plays,” I whisper as I save the email to my rejection folder.

It helps to remember rejection isn’t always about us.  It’s often about “them”.  Dawn thinks I’m funny.  I had to explain the same joke to Joe.  Naomi thinks I write characters with lots of depth.  Glen thinks I write talking heads.  So does Nancy, come to think of it.  The point is, writing is subjective.  Or as the saying goes, “There’s just no accounting for taste.” Clearly, I have it – those who send me rejection letters, don’t.

Besides I’ve learned there are things worse than rejection.  Like productions.  Believe me, there are times rejection would have been kinder.  Like when a 65 year-old actress was cast in the role of a 35 year-old woman at her grandfather’s funeral.  Or when a director decided to rewrite an ending she didn’t think the audience would get.  Or when a musical theatre guy decided to “spice up the show” by ad-libbing a song and dance number in the middle of a scene.

Maybe I’m just rationalizing.  (If you follow my posts you know how much I like to rationalize!)  Maybe I’m not as sensitive as a writer is supposed to be.  Maybe I don’t care about my work enough.  Or maybe, just maybe, I have the perfect epidermis for a playwright.

Now please write some nice affirming comments below.

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  1. #1 by Mark McKellar on February 27, 2013 - 4:33 pm

    Nice post.
    I enjoy your writing style.

  2. #2 by priceswrite on February 28, 2013 - 10:00 am

    Thanks Mark! That just shows that you have good taste!

  3. #3 by Daniel Romo on February 28, 2013 - 10:36 am

    Agree. There are far worse things than getting a rejection in the form of email from someone you’ve never met.

  4. #4 by priceswrite on February 28, 2013 - 10:44 am

    Especially when it’s addressed “Dear Playwright”!

  5. #5 by Peter D. Mallett on February 28, 2013 - 7:49 pm

    Well said. I think you have the right skin for it. I wrote on rejection a few posts back too.

  6. #6 by My Rite of Passage on March 2, 2013 - 12:53 pm

    We have a lot in common: writing, advertising background, mean brothers – except I beat you in that respect with two more brother than you – and when it comes to rejection, I follow my own advice (to my coaching clients): there’s no failure in life, only feedback.

  7. #7 by priceswrite on March 2, 2013 - 3:26 pm

    Peter, Thanks! Rejection is such a part of writing . . . you have to learn to deal with it some how. I look forward to reading your thoughts!

  8. #8 by priceswrite on March 2, 2013 - 3:29 pm

    Belinda, I like your advice. Sometimes the feedback we get from rejection is good – sometimes it’s utter ridiculous (once had a critique in which person didn’t like the character’s names). But it’s about discerning what is useful. Hope you get along with your bros as well as I do now!

  9. #9 by Theresa on March 3, 2013 - 8:37 pm

    just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder…words are in the minds that read them and the souls that relish them …be assured that having read your words for the first time..I have no inclination what so ever to reject the enjoyment I had in reading them nor the laughter that cheered my soul.

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