Writing is Not a Race

I’m currently reading a book by Lysa TerKeurst called Uninvited, which is essentially about dealing with rejection from a Christian perspective. In one of her chapters she discusses the abundance mentality (originally [I think] from the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). This mentality really just focuses on the fact that there is not a limited amount of success in the world.

For example, I am a writer. I enjoy writing MG and YA novels. There will always be readers for these age groups. Someone else getting published before me does not take away a reader from my future book. To convince ourselves that our level of success is defined by the failures of others ensures our own failure. Why would that make us fail? Because it would let thoughts into our minds that disconnect us from each other.

I’m not saying this is easy. There’s not a simple switch you flick to make you instantly happy when someone else achieves their dream before you. It’s hard, let’s be real. There might be a flicker of jealousy there. It’s what you do with that tiny spark of negative nature that defines who you are.

If you’re feeling the heat from this post, know that you’re not alone. I recently had to remind myself of these truths when I heard about a friend getting published. Now here’s the kicker, I’ve already been published (or at least, I have the promise of publication from a lit magazine, and I’m still kind of waiting for it to happen). And yet, I see someone I know achieving success, and for one ugly moment I think, but what about me? What about me, though? Really.

In her book, Lysa (and she may have gotten this from someone else, I don’t know) stresses that instead of focuses on the why’s we should focus on the what’s, such as What have I learned from this experience?

Why’s lead you down that dark rabbit hole called self pity, whereas what’s bring you up to the light of self discovery. (Yea, feel free to quote me on that one.) It seems so elementary, and honestly, it is. But it’s something that not many of us are inherently good at. Actually, I’d like to meet someone who is good at this off the cuff. It’s a reminder we all need that doesn’t hurt to have. Okay, maybe it hurts just a little. My pride does feel a smidge bruised.

So before you start typing at the speed of light to get your story out before that other person sitting next to you at Starbucks, remember, it’s not a race. There’s enough room in the world for all of our stories.

Running

Peace out cub scouts.
~Taylor

Rejecting Rejection

Life is funny sometimes. I planned out my blog posts at the beginning of January, and for today I wrote:

Life Update
-What’s going on in life (EG Update?)
-Talk about experiencing rejection

I think initially I just wanted to throw down a couple ideas because I was already running out of them (planning blog posts is not my favorite thing, surprisingly), but little did I know those words would mean so much more.

I applied to the Elizabeth George Grant for New Writers (that’s the EG Update reference above) last June. Since, I’ve made it to the second round, have spoken with some lady in their office, emailed with Elizabeth George herself (I assume it was her, anyway), and have waited patiently for the snail mail process they insist on using. You could ask for any amount of money through this grant, though of course you have to show writing samples and defend your request for x number of dollars.

pexels-photo-209641Remember when you applied for college (or watched nearly any movie where the character applies for college), and you knew before you opened the envelope if you got in or not? Skinny envelope equaled rejection, fat envelope equaled acceptance.

Last Friday I got a skinny envelope.

To say I was crushed would be an understatement. After I cried for an unseemly amount of time, I remember laying on the floor, staring at the wall while my dog snuck kisses in an attempt to cheer me up.

I’ll be honest, I thought I was going to get it. If not the “it” I requested, at least some of it. I mean, I at least assumed I’d make the $25 back I spent applying to the competition.

But alas, the $25 and who knows how much I spent in postage was never to be repaid.

If you’ve ever experienced rejection as a writer, you know how crippling it can be. While the letter or email or phone call may just be a simple “no,” writers hear

You aren’t good enough. black-and-white-person-woman-girl

You’re not right for this.

Do something else with your time.

Or much worse.

I know all that and more ran through my head Friday evening.

But then my husband reminded me of something. Sometimes the plan we make is not the story that’s being written. Don’t get me wrong, I would have LOVED having graduate school paid for. I mean seriously, no debt? Yes, please!

When I write a story, my goal is to make my character’s desires as hard to achieve as possible. What is a story without conflict? What is life without a little rejection? You have to experience the downs in order to appreciate the ups.

And boy did I have an up today.

It was a small up to most people, but huge to me.

I’ve been emailing my professors (I just finished graduate school you guys!) for letters of recommendation, when I received a response from my favorite professor to date. In short, his words were that I beat him to the punch. He had already written me a letter of recommendation before I even asked and said that he is sure I will find success in both writing and teaching.

I think my heart exploded in that moment.

I did not receive a glowing email from Elizabeth George asking me how many zeros to put on my check. I did not make back my $25 and change. I did not get to write an overly excited blog post to you all about how they renamed the Elizabeth George Grant after me.

But what I do have is a champion in my corner. I have people who believe in me. I have people who know without a doubt that I am a writer, grant money or not.

I can’t tell you how important it is to reject rejection. Maybe the rejection leads you to revision, and that’s totally cool. It’s quite normal, actually. Rejecting rejection is not allowing it to keep you on the floor, paralyzed while your dog licks your face. Rejecting rejection is saying “Okay, thank you for your time,” picking up your things, and moving on.

Because no one can stop you but you.

~Tay