Dealing With Disappointment

Hello, my friends. We are human, and therefore we shall be disappointed. Welcome to life.

This is something that I’ve been thinking about for quite a while.  Hmmm, disappointment.  Shall I write about it on my writing blog? My family blog? Both? It applies to all of us. Nobody is immune, not even you.  Sorry.

You work on a piece, polish it, think it’s as perfect as you can get it, and it’s ultimately rejected. What do you do? You don’t get the promotion that you went for. Or you hope the geneticist will suddenly grant you miracles, and it turns out that she is only human after all.  Or, you know, something like that. 

Disappointment can be crushing.  If not taken care of properly, disappointment can turn into despair, and despair is an ugly thing.  All you have to do is google “authors who committed suicide” and you can see that.

I’m hoping to get a great conversation going about this in the comments.  How do you personally handle disappointment, whether it be in the Writing World, or Real Life?

25 thoughts on “Dealing With Disappointment

  1. I think about all the great writers out there who were rejected for years before being published. There’s a time for everything and success will not come without perserverance on your part.

  2. It varies. Most times I resubmit the story or consign it to the trash if it’s a multiple rejectee. Other times, I wallow for several minutes and then I resubmit etc. I think it helps that I tend to get excited that the next place I’m subbing to is the one.

  3. True dat, Gene. We should all have a screaming and crying fest someday. Perhaps it could be very therapeutic. Thanks for dropping by! :)

    Everybody, meet Harley. She’s a new partner in crime. Plus Harleys and Mercedes go together well.

    Cate, how do you know when to trash it? I’m always convinced that with enough work, that piece CAN BE SAVED! But then, I have a few cringe-inducing stories out. >>

  4. I have been disappointed, betrayed,rejected by, or whatever by a number of people over the years. As a result I have set my expectectations low from people. That way I’m pleasantly surprised when things work out in my favour. I guess that philosophy can apply to submissions as well.

  5. When I story is rejected, I let myself feel sad and then focus on where to send it next. I rarely make changes (unless I have a gut feeling that I need to) since what one editor didn’t like, another might love.

  6. Oh and laughing. Poking fun (usually at myself because I make it so easy. :P) at anything and everything because laughter really is healing.

  7. When one of my stories is rejected, I try to keep these things in mind…

    1
    Knowing Ray Bradbury got rejected how many times–like 800-900–before his first sale? And, he makes a point of saying he still gets rejected. True, lots of folks get published sooner. I got published sooner. But I’m not close to being Ray Bradbury, not by a damn sight, so the idea that I’m somehow above the rejection experience borders on insanity.

    2
    Believing in the conventional wisdom that rejections aren’t personal. I’ve been lucky, in my ten-minute-long writing career, to learn firsthand just how subjective a rejection OR acceptance can be. So far, every story I’ve sold was previously rejected from at least one other market. One editor’s trash, etc….

    3
    This picture, which is my daily affirmation on perseverance:
    http://twitpic.com/mrxmx

    These things don’t *prevent* me from feeling down when I get rejected. It’s the same way that knowing how to defend yourself from an attack doesn’t guarantee you won’t get attacked, or even hurt. It just becomes a question of how fast you can regroup and recover.

  8. I smile get a coffee and sit down and write a whole new story in 5-15 days that fans love, the target audience love, but no agent will touch it or me. Do i give a shit any more? No. Will i keep smiling and writing, dogging on twilight and glittery vampires? Hell yeah. Will i continue to question how some of these jackasses got published? Yes. But my time will come and when it does i will be jumping up and down on some couch on a talk show and will be on Chelsea lately and will throw chewy over my shoulder and take him away. Oh, lets not forget about that lovely folder of rejections i have to email a copy of the new yorks best seller list to when i am on it with a picture of me flipping them off saying how do you like them apples? Am i bitter? No, not at all. I am just an asshole by nature. However, it makes dealing with rejection and disappointment so much easier.

  9. Now if I could only apply that level of thought & fortitude in dealing with my disappointments in people. Tired of sweeping up ashes from burned bridges. :)

  10. Alan and Aaron- I think you’re absolutely right in that expectation directly affects disappointment. This is where I struggle. On one hand, I don’t want to expect so much out of people (or a story) that I’m destined to be disappointed. But on the other hand, if you don’t expect anything, you don’t receive anything. People usually tend to try to live up to your expectations of them. And in the Writing World, I try to keep my expectations at around nil. But is that a disservice? If you receive a partial or full request for a novel, for example, you can let your mind run wild (This is it! The Moment of Magic!) or you can think, “Stay cool, it won’t get any farther than this.” Which seems like the thing to do sometimes, in order to avoid being disappointed, but what if the agent ends up calling you, and YOU AREN’T PREPARED??

    I suppose this sounds like a classic case of “It’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.” Sheesh.

  11. I tell myself that self-publishing and on demand publishing is always an option. Hell, I might end up blogging all my fucking stories. At least they’ll be out there, and a few people will like them, maybe a lot. I try not to think of being Stephenie Meyer, whose writing quite frankly makes me cringe (I tend to do comparisons to others in my writing genre), yet she’s making millions. Is that my goal, not really, but it would be nice. If not, I still believe in what I write and keep my options open.

  12. Natalie-Ha, me too. ;)

    So what is your goal, Jenn? I’m trying to figure that one out myself. What is it that we really, really want?

    Becca-do you sing and dance? Tell me that you sing and dance!

  13. I start with self-pity, then move on to drinking too much for a week or two. That’s for major disappointments. For minor ones, an afternoon’s worth of funk is usually the result. A good night’s sleep gives enough perspective to snap me out of it.

    The subjectivity of reactions to artistic endeavors makes those pursuits particularly difficult. Fortunately, we have history’s example of those who made it against all odds, and (sadly) those who didn’t persevere where if they had, they’d have come out on top, Beatrix Potter initially self-published The Tale of Peter Rabbit ’cause it was rejected so much. She exemplifies the first category. John Kennedy Toole took his own life after A Confederacy of Dunces didn’t sell. It went on to win the Pulitzer, a heartbreaking example of the latter category.

    Both methods of dealing with rejection can inform us and give us perspective on our own disappointments, I think.

  14. Today, I absolutely feel goal-less. But that could just be because it’s Monday and it’s gloomy once again, and Christmas is coming, and I love Christmas, and sometimes I wish it was over, and I feel like I have too many stories to write, and I feel like they all suck, and I think they are all great at the same time, and…and…

    You get the picture???

  15. I think what Aaron said applies to me. I think it was Neil Gaiman who said, “Write the next thing.” That’s exactly what I do, when the dissapointment is on the writing front.

  16. Woke up this morning after not enough sleep, having to come in to work 30 minutes early, to find another story rejection in my inbox.

    It was the last thing I needed at that particular moment.

    Not the biggest of deals, certainly. I already know which market gets to reject me next. But it’s funny how timing matters sometimes. If I’d gotten the rejection after 8 full hours of sleep, it might’ve been different.

    Still, Denis Leary said it best. “Life’s tough. Wear a cup.”

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