Happy New Year! Here’s to the most creative year of your life!
Last week we talked about how to accept your creative self and creative work. This week we’re going to talk about rejection.
Take a look at your notes from the week. What were your feelings about self-acceptance and the acceptance of others? By the end of the week, did you feel that you could face critique with a clear understanding of yourself as an artist? Sometimes this is tough so keep working at it. A friend once said to me that not everything is precious. I’m not sure that I agree on the surface, but I know what she meant.
Sometimes the process is more important than the result. Life happens over time, along with the development of skill and artistic touch.
I hope you’re keeping a notebook or pad of your work with the exercises. They will help you in times where you feel you are creatively blocked or stuck. The strongest force working against you as a creative spirit can be rejection = self-doubt.
Imagine you have endured the expense and trouble of showing your work for the very first time at a juried art show – WOW! You got in! – but by day’s end, nothing has sold. Barely anyone has spoken to you. You don’t feel like an artist, you feel like a hack hawking on a street corner.
You look around at the other art for sale. You think, “Mine is better than that.” Or you may think “that guy is really good!” and feel a flash of inspiration. Then you stand back and take a look around, take a long view. Who has sold anything? How much? How many other artists are there? Good grief, what was I thinking?
And the self-rejection – not reflection – begins. Self-rejection could bring the death of your art. Self-reflection can inspire you to do more, better, sustain, continue.
Let’s say you’re a writer, like me, working on your first novel. You’ve had a taste of rejection. None of your short story contest submissions have been accepted. Even the novel work-in-progress competitions have turned you down.
Dear m e fuller:
Thank you for sending your work to Narrative. We are always grateful for the opportunity to review new work, and we have given “Saving the Ghost” close attention and careful consideration. We regret, however, that “Saving the Ghost” does not meet our needs at this time. We hope that you will keep us in mind in the future.
Do you continue? Do you quit? I think of my work in this way:
- I know I’m not a master
- I know I cannot compete on a master level with other masters
- I know I have a unique point of view
- I know I have a talent – raw as it may be
- I know I want to write
- I know I write whether I want to or not
- I know I’m a writer
- I know I can learn from critiques and edits from others
- I want to share my stories. I want to learn to write so well that others will read my stories.
- I accept that my work may never rise to the mass market
- I’m okay with all of the above.
Here’s what that can look like, brought to you by litrejections.com. Can you continue, knowing that this might be how your work is received?
Rejection vs self-reflection.
There comes a point at which you must decide if you can survive criticism and/or disinterest by others. For those who write novels – not by formula, but from the heart and soul – you know it takes an unreal amount of time, commitment and struggle to complete the first draft alone, which is nothing but a jumping off place for the real work. It takes a reader a handful of hours to take in all that you’ve offered, and then it’s done. So you want lots of readers, right?
In our current social climate of constant electronic distraction, you may never achieve that kind of attention for your work. Only self-reflection can fuel you forward – the inner knowledge that this work is what you are uniquely qualified to do. There is no one else who can tell your story.
There is no one else who can create what you create. That has to be enough. All the rest is bonus – as my husband would say, fishing is great. Catching is a bonus.
For your exercise this week, I ask that you write down every single doubt and bad feeling and experience of rejection that you have, as it happens. Follow that with last week’s notes on acceptance. Whatever you create this week, measure it against your notes on acceptance. Good wishes and good creating! Next week we’ll talk about valuing your creative work.
Next week’s topic: Value. See you back here next Sunday night!
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