Why I love rejection.

So much to process right now, words about to rip out of me. Been a big month, you could say. Have a lot to share. But not ready to. Instead, going to write about rejection.

I recently received what I consider “positive” rejections from Short of the Week and Tin House, and it got me thinking. I’m good friends with rejection. We’ve met each other many, many times. In fact, rejection might be the most helpful feedback one can get on the path of art and life, depending how you receive it.

Short of the Week wrote they mulled over my film quite a bit, were very close to accepting it but ultimately felt it wasn’t what they were looking for. Considering this was the darkest and most edgy film work I’ve ever written/acted in/produced, I was nervous as hell to put it out into the world. Terrified of being judged as a psycho pervert, aka terrified of being rejected. The pass from SOTW felt like a win, because apparently they rarely give more than a “thanks but no thanks.”

“This was a really tough call for us. Considering the film is about such an intensely unlikable and awful character, it’s undeniably compelling. The lead performance is fantastic and the unconventional, yet strong shot choices help convey a sense of unease, unsettling the viewer. You really do capture the “seedy underbelly” of LA.” 

Tin House, illustrious gatekeepers of literary merit, also rejected me. A much briefer “this doesn’t work for us, but please know we welcome reading your future work.” I’ve never been so excited to be rejected! Hooray! It means 1.) They actually read it, and 2.) As one of my mentors Colette pointed out This is a definitely a good rejection, especially from Tin House. Believe me, they get scads of submissions. They only send “send agains” to people whose work genuinely impresses them.”

So what it does mean, getting close to acceptance but swallowing rejection? How many other times has this happened? The novel I wrote that almost got published, then didn’t. The original pilot I wrote/acted in that almost got picked up, then didn’t. Am I good, but not good enough? The guys I’ve liked who didn’t like me back. The jobs I’ve wanted but they hired someone else. For all my work ethic, commitment, continual work on my spiritual/emotional/physical self, maybe I’m good enough, but not “right” enough. In that moment. For that opportunity/person/acknowledgement.

Maybe I suck. But that’s not for me to know. For now, I’m keeping a note card on my desk where I keep a hash mark for every rejection I get on my current project (a new pilot). I look at it like wanting to rack up rejections, because it’s a numbers game, and eventually I’ll get the YES. And it only takes one yes.

And because not trying is the same thing as being told “no.”

And here’s a brain dump from my mind:

I saw an owl at the Renaissance Faire. He had fire eyes like the red flowers on the pomegranate trees in my yard. Looking at my face and seeing it get older. The shooting star I saw Saturday night. That time we gathered to watch the blood moon eclipse and it was foggy so we drank cactus instead and laughed and I ended up in a suite at the W Hotel. The loves I’ve had. The friend I’m not going to see for a long time. Lady Fluff’s cat kisses. Realizing she’s a feline Kathy Bates. My own near misses. Hiding from the lust demon, not eating sugar or dairy or starch for a month like a real LA girl. My former Reno self is embarrassed. But it helps me think straight.

6 responses

  1. Rejection is pondering the thoughts of why ? How ? An could I have done it better in life ? Ahhhhh just one more shot of a mere yes would be so inviting after racking up what we all come across the finish line of disgruntled efforts lol ! We take it to heart or give others our heart completely and none the less acceptance is far an few between. This week I can relate more than ever with obstacles daily and the the tired excuses that exhaust my conscious from slowly giving up. This is what makes us human the strength to accomplish what those who tell us can’t be done in life. Follow your dreams goals and aspirations never give up because those who say ” no ” or polite rejections also give in once in a great while to decide to give that individual with a dream a real chance at reaching success. I enjoyed these comments and felt inspired to share to all ” never give up ” and your rejections will soon transform to perfection and a simple ” yes ” would be so refreshing for all those that have gone through the trial and error , hard work and sweat equity off life’s many rejections.

    Parker moselle

    May 6, 2016 at 3:10 am

    • Beautifully said, Parker. So beautiful. Loved “rejection will turn to perfection” and “the finish line of disgruntled efforts.” Funny how rejection unites us all, who hasn’t experienced it? It’s as human as breathing. Yet it always feel like a “they” who rejects us, the impossible other. Does that make sense? Or too meta? Anyway. Thanks for your comment. A gem added to the conversation. Xx

      May 10, 2016 at 6:45 am

  2. Jen

    Loved this film!

    May 4, 2016 at 1:23 am

  3. Nathan Digangi

    Thanks for writing about this. I was just thinking about how the “Thrill of Rejection” helps motivate me to try. You’re absolutely right about it being a numbers game. Sometimes it takes 100 or 1000 no’s to get 1 yes. Stay the course! Keep up the good fight! Good things in good time!

    May 3, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    • Thanks for weighing in Nate. Totally agree, rack up the no’s! Keep em coming my way! Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school basketball team, Abraham Lincoln lost dozens of elections before winning one, etc etc. The examples are everywhere.

      May 10, 2016 at 6:14 am

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