Did anyone watch Law and Order on NBC last night (it’s one of the few channels besides PBS and the ‘God’ channel we get in the house. Emily and I wonder if it will become the ‘all Law and Order all the time’ channel)? The basic premise was that a frustrated wannabe author writes a book about serial killers, gets rejected because ‘it’s not timely’ and then the author sets out to make it timely.
There’s this one scene where they find the guy’s apartment and break in, and find his study covered in rejection slips. “Interesting choice of wallpaper,” a detective says, and they all look at the slips and then back at each other with a sort of horrified look that implies: ‘what kind of twisted freak wallpapers his study with rejections?’
At which point Emily turns to me and says “Now do you understand why people who visited you in your dorm rooms were really freaked out by that?”
Hey, it wasn’t like I was nailing manuscripts to my wall made out of human parchment or something, I was just taping rejections to the wall. I can’t have been the only writer in history to do so.
Maybe it is that I live in a society in general that is scared to look at failure. Rejection really freaks people out. When I explain how many rejections I have people either assume I’m a really bad writer or I’m slightly weird.
But in order to succeed you will risk failure, or even encounter failure, and I really, really, wanted the success of writing. Bad enough to paper my walls with rejections.
It’s not scary, just determined.
And why the walls? Why not in a book or something?
For me each rejection was a concrete step forward, proof that I was working hard at being published. It wasn’t a wall of rejection, it was a wall of progress.