Monday, 30 January 2012

Life Skillz

As a struggling freelancer writer, one of my new skills is dealing with constant rejection. I say "skill". I haven't really mastered it yet, but this kind of thing used to knock me for a week, now I just feel slightly sick for half an hour, so I am claiming it as another shitty personal growth opportunity (who coined that phrase? I love them). You too can battle your tiny sense of self-worth and triumph! These are my current top coping strategies:

1. Delete any rejection email so quickly it as is if IT NEVER HAPPENED. Then empty your deleted items folder. Then your sent items. If necessary, forget your password. Or emigrate. Whatever it takes, really. What email? If you can't show me it, it never happened. Nope. Not me.

2. Elaborate a pleasant deferred gratification fantasy scenario for yourself, ie. "When my book is fabulously successful, and I am the acknowledged wunder-non-kind of Anglophone Belgian literature, you will be BEGGING me to write for you". (Do not, whatever you do at this point, go and look at your book manuscript as this may catapult you into terminal decline. Just let yourself think you have a gem hiding in your documents folder. Don't have a book in your documents folder? Doesn't matter! If anything, that's better, because the fantasy of its planet-dominating success will be easier to maintain).

3. Pretend to yourself you sent the pitch in error. 'Oh god. Did I send that? Did I? SHIT. Thank god that person didn't say yes, that would have been awful'.

4. The way of M: "There is no such thing as failure. You try something. It does not work. So you try again, or you try something else". I find this mantra works best recited with a Chunky Peanut Butter KitKat clenched between your teeth, and a YouTube video of a sloth on screen. Messy, but restorative.

5. Remind yourself of your blessings: 'I have a wonderful family, two beautiful and kind, if somewhat scornful, children, a scavenged rabbit the size of Geoff Capes:

an incredibly stupid dog:

several of my own teeth, my health, some nice Frédéric Malle body cream and a collection of really great shoes from when I used to earn decent money. I am doing great. Why do I need external validation?*'.

(*The answer to this is mainly: money. But also: craven need for approval.)

6. I can often distract myself for up to quarter of an hour by looking over here, at my weblog, and trying to think of ways to 'monetise' the fucker. This has always been a catastrophic failure in the past, but hope springs eternal.

7. Remember that rejection is very good for the soul. With each rejection, my soul looks less like a blackened, blighted raisin, and more like, erm, a UNICORN. Possibly. If I put it in caps it become true, apparently.

8. Think of another publication which you haven't humiliated yourself by approaching yet, and TRY AGAIN.

How do you deal with rejection? Any hints?


Adrian said...

Maybe try starting up a project on "Kickstarter". Essentially, you set the amount of money it would require to get your book written, then fans can pledge money towards it (typically with the reward of a copy of the book for larger pledges). If you don't raise enough money, the pledges are not collected (so no one is out of pocket), but if you do reach the threshold you get sent a big check from all your supporters. Pretty much it is a way to support a project by pre-ordering copies of a book that hasn't been written yet.

WrathofDawn said...

By never attempting to do anything that isn't guaranteed to be successful, that's how.

It's not much, as plans go, but it's all I've got right now.

Joi said...

The way I deal with everything unpleasant: I ignore it. No joke, I have in my 21 years become SO GOOD at this y'all. When a thought comes into my head that makes me feel bad (say, an ex-boyfriend, deadline I'm avoiding or a mean comment by a friend), I either swear quietly and repeatedly under my breath or shake my head quickly for about 5 seconds and POOF the thought's gone. Super mindcontrol.

Of course, conversely, when put into a stressful situation that I can't POOF myself out of (being lost or confronted with a deadline I've left til the very last minute) I am so pathetically ill-equipped to deal that I get an immediate physical reaction. During my final exams I got an angry red rash all over my face. I scratch the back of my neck until it bleeds. Whenever lost, without fail, my top lip swells up. Twice as quickly if it's night. Sigh.

That's Not My Age said...

I tend to feel crap for a bit and then carry on as if it never happened.

MsCaroline said...

Well, I do have a series of coping mechanisms, but - according to all the professionals - they're not in the least bit healthy. Mostly I brood, agonize, obsess, wallow, and repeat, and that can't be good for anyone.

mousedroppings said...

Oh Waffle this post is perfectly timed for me! I have just completed a social work degree and I am now looking for work. Even though I am 40 years old I can't drive and naturally almost every job advertised requires that the applicant has a driver's licence. So I have felt the rejection before even applying.

My strategy is to feel very very sorry for myself. So far it is an effective strategy but I suspect it will not be tolerated long term.

wv distera. A nice combination between hysteria and dysentry do you think? I imagine it will afflict me should I ever secure an interview. Humiliation

Pat (in Belgium) said...

How do I deal with rejection? In a word: D E N I A L

And, I've noticed on quick reflection, I just have NOT been putting myself "out there" for an embarrassingly long period of time. Nothing ventured, nothing gained...or lost (except "time"...tick tick tick)!

wv "xentions" (is that the opposite of INtentions? I find it terribly appropriate for what I've just posted...)

Patience_Crabstick said...

The life of the writer. I belong to the category of people who have nothing tangible to show, and can thus maintain the fantasy of being a successful writer some day.
Your deleting the emails tactic is the one I would use.

Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes said...

Ignorance is bliss

Anonymous said...

I'm old enough to have learnt that no one cares in a hundred years, so why care even for a day (or a night, as it were, as that is the time for the demon of failure and regret to comne and visit).

Why don't you open a new bank account, put the number on the blog for all to see and wait till the money starts rolling in? It will, not in heaps, but more than through the ads I'd say (even though I know nothing of having your life ruled by the market, EU-official as I am).


Xtreme English said...

Oh, please, ms. waffle. your writing is wonderful! WHY are you subjecting yourselves to the sniffy gatekeepers at obscenely rich publishing houses? PUBLISH IT YOURSELF and start selling NOW! i for one will buy a copy of everything you write, and i'll tell my literate friends, whose name is lots, to do the same. get on with it! sell some shoez if need be to get the price of a print book if you want, or just do it for free at one of the fab self-publishing sites. you can do this. it's so effing easy you'll kick yourself from brussels to london and back that you haven't done it before. and when you get enough of those wonderful books, the sniffy gatekeepers will come to you.

kath said...

Hey, I'm a fundraiser, rejection's no 1 in the job description.

Waffle said...


Because today none of the nine step programme worked.

livesbythewoods said...

I was recently rejected by a well-known holiday company. I'd applied for a crappy part time cleaning job, and they told me "no."


Me with my degree and my years of experience in the job market, and my superb interpersonal skills.


I deal with it by muttering "All this energy and high quality skill could have been yours, you ungrateful bastards," as I scrub filth off the kitchen walls.

So far it's been helpful.

kath said...

I used to take spriritual refuge in the occasional presentation of those enormous cheques but nobody does them any more. Mainly one just stops caring. Or sometimes I take the really really painful option of asking for feedback.

Waffle said...

Respeck, Kath. The day I manage to do that is the day I know I am actually, finally an adult.

Sarah said...

Indeed, ask for feedback. If you're lucky, you'll learn a bit about why your work (not you) is being rejected. And sometimes, the bits are easily fixable, and then you feel more confident and powerful, and confidence feeds success, and then more pieces fall into place. It's hard, but worth it.

Jane said...

Rejection letters...I am going to copy that fast deletion technique.
Adrian's kickstarter idea sounds good..I'd be in it. I am also not averse to those paypal links some bloggers have where you can pay them a little bit occasionally for the pleasure of their company (hey that sounds dirty!). Seems reasonable to me. Rather that than read promos.

JJ said...

I just keep practicing and assume I'm going to get good at it at some point.

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