John Bray - 2/83 - Filets to Fishsticks
I received a rejection on a creative piece of writing about two weeks ago. Like others in the past, this one was honest. Thanks but no thanks. Unlike the others, this one came in the mail in an envelope I addressed to myself five months ago. It’s the first rejection that I’ve been able to hold in my hand.
I’ve been spending the last 9-12 months trying to get my writing out there, really pushing both my art and my skill, but rejections on creative pieces, real pieces of who I am, have yet to hit softly.
It makes me want to write more and it makes me want to stop writing.
I could go on about rejection and getting up after being knocked down and moving on and all of that, but there are thousands of other places to read such things and many of them probably have deeper insight than what I can offer. But what I can say is that this recent rejection, this one general form letter, is sitting on my desk in plain view. And it has been since the day I got it. In fact, it’s sitting upright and I can see it from my bed. I can stare at it before going to sleep and it’s become one of the first things my eyes focus on when I wake up. I see it and I hate it. But I won’t move it. I won’t even touch it to adjust its awkward crease.
It makes me want to write more and it makes me want to stop writing. It makes me want to submit two pieces for every one that gets kicked back and it makes me want to burn my laptop to the ground. It makes me angry thinking they rejected my work and it makes me embarrassed thinking that I actually thought my work would be a good fit everywhere.
Because it’s not. And it never has been. And I hope it never will be.
To some my work it quite good. To others its just the opposite. To others still its *shrug* “let’s just send him this form letter that we’ll crease off center because somehow we can guess that he’s oddly particular about that sort of thing and that one crease will bother him more than the rejection, therefore diminishing the blow.” But I’ll keep writing for those that enjoy it. And if I happen to run into someone who doesn’t? Well, I’ll just prop their thoughts on my desk, too. But if I know one thing, I know this: I never want rejections to feel commonplace. I never want to like form letters and I never want to grow numb to them. I never want my work to mean that little to me. I want to feel every rejection I receive and I want that feeling, that humbling, angry sting of rejection, to be something I never make peace with.
In hindsight, I would have done a few things differently with these photos, but you don’t always have time to plan when standing on a public sidewalk and peering into a stranger’s window with a camera.