On Tuesday, I got a rejection mail. And before I could gloat about my loss, I got an acceptance mail from another publication. The rejection came from a prestigious one, a publication I admired because of its array of brilliant writers. And it came with a cash prize and a supposed road map to living on the Wall Street of Writer’s Paradise. The acceptance mail, not so much. (Disclaimer: this is not negative in any way, but there are invisible rankings, and some publications have been around longer than others hence they have earned more attention.)
When I told a friend I was chatting with about the two mails I received few minutes apart, “One door closes, another door opens,” he texted back before I could explain how much the rejection mail meant. I smiled, because I saw it that way too. The acceptance numbed the pain of rejection, in losing out, I gained somewhere else. Maybe I’m been delusional, and I’m trying to philosophize, but a little gain somewhere else after a huge loss helps, right?
In January, a Facebook friend shared an article published on Lithub.com WHY YOU SHOULD AIM FOR 100 REJECTIONS A YEAR. I had read it before, thanks to another friend, but re-reading it gave it more depth. I understood better. The need of trying again. Prior to that, I preferred to just hoard stuff, because I am writing for me. I learnt a 100 rejection is more than being rejected by literary magazines. It’s learning not to hoard, to give words wings to fly, and if they get shot down, no wahala.
I read a piece few weeks ago 5 WAYS TO DEAL WITH REJECTION AS A WRITER by Jessica Jungton on Medium.com. One of Jessica’s advise is to; Spread your submissions, that way an acceptance will be on the heels of a rejection —she didn’t say it with those exact words though. And I didn’t expect that few weeks later, her theory will become my reality. I saw it firsthand. A loss, an acceptance, both sides of the same coin.
I don’t know how people handle serial rejections, I will not sing about it at the mountain top, it’s not glossy, no matter the make-up we apply on it. But I am not a fan of easy acceptance either. Great things take time, right?
Isn’t that what wise people say?
That nothing good happens without a little struggle, nothing good is found on the path of least resistance, right?
I would love to see it that way. But it’s not that easy. There is a thing about rejection that stings and if not well handled, it can spiral into rejecting self and painting gruesome scenarios, turning a cockroach to a dragon.
One of the bloggers I admire, Timi is running a series about loss on her blog, Livelytwist.com. The entries are sublime, you should read them. LOSS IS PRESENT CONTINUOUS is not a recommended read if you want cheap quotes and easy philosophy to make you feel better, it is rather a call to accept loss, adapt, and to forge ahead. MY FATHER’S LAUGHTER brought tears to my eyes for its reminder to cherish what we have while we still have it, and in WE NEVER LOSE WHAT WE VALUE, Ifenihinlola — another blogger whose brain I would love to feed on— eulogized the gain in losing but not really losing things. He also wrote in one of his post here that, “In the business of writing, rejection doesn’t imply a lack of quality, and an acceptance of that is needed for the darkest days.”
These stories of gaining while losing are a reflection of losing while gaining. The twin of acceptance and rejection in another costume. It’s a paradox. Just as this beauty here by Ron Collins; “the hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”
In most games, e.g. football —what the Americans call soccer— for one to win, another have to lose. Even some draws are regarded as loss, especially when a team is few minutes from a win. A loss, a win, a draw all wrapped in the same game. And sometimes the hurrier a losing team go, the behinder they get.
Some years ago, a friend’s love overture was rejected. The girl built a wall so high without gates around herself, my friend had no hope of entry. He lamented and tried all he could to break down her walls, and later, he was sane enough to accept her rejection. He moved on. I smile looking at him now because he has found someone else and they are forging ahead, building a future together.
I often wonder what if he had continued wailing and hoping for her walls to break down. Would his persistence have broken down her walls or would he have grown bitter and vengeful because she starts finding him distasteful? What if?
The story pinned to my Medium.com HOW LONG SHOULD PATIENCE LAST? is an eternal question whose answer always ends up becoming another question. I still haven’t found it, and hopefully I will someday. But before then, I am learning to be patient with growth, and to accept rejection because an entrance is an exit when it is looked at from the other side.
Maybe I am delusional. Maybe I am not so smart. Maybe I am just a weakling who lacks persistence. Maybe I am all these and more. Maybe I am just human after all. But isn’t it reasonable to lose, grieve, dust yourself up, and then move to the next number on the list? Isn’t it sane to go where you are accepted instead of pounding at a door marked rejected? Isn’t it?
PS: Just when you think it’s against all odds, life flips the coin. I got another acceptance mail the next day, a pitch I submitted was approved. The editor requested I develop the essay for publication.
And in other news, it’s April Fools’ Day. Be fooled responsibly 😊😊😊✌✌✌