Rejection: Why Actors Expect It And You Should, Too

Marylee MacDonald is the author of MONTPELIER TOMORROW, a novel about caregiving and ALS. Her short story collection, BONDS OF LOVE & BLOOD, was a finalist in the Foreword Reviews' INDIEFAB Awards. Her fiction has won Gold and Silver Medals from Readers' Favorites International Book Awards, the Barry Hannah Prize, the Ron Rash Award, and many others.

When we begin writing, we’re in touch with our deepest and most creative selves. It’s joyful. It’s fun. We’re walking the tightrope of success–and in constant danger of falling off. Those falls come from rejection. But rejection also brings many positives: life lessons about balance, reframing, and disaster preparedness.

stamp, rejection, document

Learning how to deal with rejection is an important life skill, but it’s even more important for people planning a career in the arts. That’s because all of the arts–from music to the visual arts to theater and film–must ultimately satisfy audiences with widely disparate tastes.
Image from Pixabay via HypnoArt

In this post I’m going to talk about rejection in all its forms, from the responses we get from our families, to feedback from writing groups, to agents’ rejections. Later on, we may face rejection from publishers and, ultimately, disinterest from readers.

Criticism need not cause you to put work aside and question its worth. Rejection is not fun. But, how we handle rejection can mean the difference between achieving our dreams and letting them fizzle out. If you want to write, you have to dust yourself off after a fall. You must be wedded to process, not outcome.

Showing Our Work

The moment we show another person our work, we open ourselves to criticism. The shrug or eye-roll of a spouse can send us into a funk for days. Too many “helpful suggestions” from our writing group can trigger a migraine or cause us to lose faith that our writing will ever be “good enough.”

If you are going to be a writer, you will be rejected, not just once, buy many times. It’s virtually impossible to develop the hide of an armadillo, even if we’d sometimes like to find a way to let those barbs of criticism bounce