I previously shared that Angela and I teamed up and co-wrote and submitted a screenplay to a screenplay writing competition associated with a major film festival.
Well, today we got our rejection letter. It was very nice and polite–thanking and commending us and explaining that over 8,000 screenplays were submitted and the decision was difficult, etc., etc.
Before you get all teary eyed, you should know this: We were kind of happy to get our rejection letter. Yes–happy! Crazy right? Well, for one thing, we were expecting it. Of course you hope that you’ll get that call telling you how brilliant you are, but in reality we knew our screenplay needed a few edits when we submitted it.
More importantly though, we were happy because our letter was our first rejection letter, and to us, that symbolized something big. We WROTE something that we FINISHED which was LOOKED AT by someone in the industry and was actually READ and REJECTED! “Wow,” we said. “We rock!”
After all, don’t most success stories start off with, “Despite receiving a ton of rejection letters,” dot dot dot? Even Stephen King in his book On Writing tells of his early rejections. He started writing and submitting articles to magazines as a young boy. When he received his first rejection slip, he hung it on the wall. Mr. King shares: “By the time I was fourteen . . . the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.”
I think Angela and I should nail up our first rejection letter because that letter is proof. It’s proof that we are writers. It’s proof that we made the effort and took the time to do something that we wanted to do and weren’t afraid of failing. It’s proof we are brave. It’s proof that we work well together and make a great team. It’s proof of our friendship and our support of one another. It’s proof that even though we walk to our day job in crappy Trenton, New Jersey under the hanging live wires and downed traffic lights, we dream big.
In writing and in life, rejection means something huge– it means that you pushed aside your fears and took action and risked failure and vulnerability.
I know for a fact that some of you reading this post have been rejected– by men, by women, by publishers, by prospective employers. It sucks, because you made an effort and believed in something. You believed that your love could outlast. You believed that your novel could be enjoyed by the world. You believed that you’d be perfect for that job. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. What is important is that you gave it a try. Your chances of it working out would have been a big fat zero without the try. Giving it a shot, taking the risk, doing the work, taking the journey is what life is about.
So instead of crying over rejection, tack those rejections onto your walls of life with a giant metal spike and display them with pride. These rejections are your proof that you took a forward step. You followed your heart. You wrote a novel or applied for a dream job. You loved someone. What a wonderful thing to have done!
Keep going and fighting and learning and loving and believing. No matter your journey, if rejection happens to you, stare it in the eye, give it the finger, hit the “reset” button, and try again because someday you just might succeed. And imagine what a trip that would be!
Have a nice night and thanks for reading 🙂