It could grow back. It could also all fall out. But fortunately, unlike hair, writing doesn't have a mind of its own. We're able to manipulate words and phrases to our liking and to the liking of others. Criticism turns catalyst when we decide to own our literary shortcomings and create something worth reading, something of which we're actually proud.
Rejection is only the first step.
I was fortunate enough to place in the top 250 of Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award contest this year, a feat for which I developed an arthritic pain in my wrist from patting myself on the back so hard, that is until the day I received Publisher Weekly's review of my manuscript. I've only provided you a short snippet for fear of rendering you catatonic.
There are only so many bad metaphors...and pages of self-analysis one can read before it feels like slogging through the transcript of her never-ending (and going nowhere) therapy session.The " her" they were referring to is my main character although they might as well have been referring to me. Ericka is a horrible writer and her work is as grungy and threadbare as the black yoga pants she continuously wears.
I'm not going to lie. It hurt like hell to know that not everyone found my writing to be as charming and enrapturing as my parents do. Don't get me wrong, I've had plenty of rejection letters from agents and small publishing houses in the past. But the majority of those letters were friendly and often played to my strong points. My parents' bribes were obviously a sound investment.
Publisher Weekly's review, however, found very little to praise although they did throw me a "Potentially interesting plotlines hint at a promising story." At least I can hint with the best of them.
So yeah, it was a pretty brutal beating, but you know what? They're absolutely right. And you know what else? I'm glad they said it because I was having the hardest time admitting it myself.
I'm now working on my third manuscript. I've decided to stop hinting and actually flesh out a solid story line. I've also decided to ice my wrist and stop patting myself on the back. Writing is work, it's a messy relationship between you and the page and if you're willing to let yourself get comfortable and to burn the rejection letter without reading it first, then there's no point in continuing the journey.
But look at it this way: even if it gets too hard to be honest with yourself and to test your creative limits, you can always treat yourself to highlights.
How have you dealt with rejection?