Elvis, Van Gogh and Stephen King – When is rejection affirmation?

Today I got one and half rejections for writing. One from a prestigious writing competition that said thanks but no…the other from a magazine that said they would get back to me in the autumn re a series of articles.  So why does this not feel like the end of the world or my budding writing career at the very least?

Because as the venerable Stephen King wrote in his book “On Writing“…..only writers get rejections and he put a large nail in the wall and pinned the first of many rejection slips (in the days before email) on it. He saw this as a sign that he was a writer and rejection, like auditions are part and parcel of the working life of a writer. King’s most renowned and first book, Carrie, was rejected thirty times. King decided to forget the book, which his wife retrieved from the bin  and convinced him to re-submit it. Otherwise we would never have the bejaysus scared out of us by Jack Nicholson in The Shining  or bit our fingernails to the quick watching Carrie.

After a performance at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, Elvis was told by the concert hall manager at the time that he would be  better off returning to Memphis and driving trucks.

During his lifetime Vincent Van Gogh received hardly any acclaim for his art and only sold one  painting to a friend for a very small amount of money. Nevertheless, he continued painting  throughout his life, and now his paintings sell for millions of dollars throughout the world.

Since I started facilitating The Artist’s Way, its is impossible not to be inspired by the creativity of the participants, and of course, there is no point in asking people to be creative if I dont practice what I preach. So I have been submitting poems, stories, articles ideas over the last year like I used to before life/work/being busy got in the way. The thrill is in the finishing, editing, submitting, finding a mistake you missed (oh yes!) AFTER you sent something in, and then moving on to the next thing, whatever that is. Some have been published, some have not.

The funny thing is, the more I write and submit, the more work I seem to attract.

I never claim to understand quantum physics but there is something about doing the thing you love and attracting positive outcomes in other places.  I bought a book one time called “Do what you love and the money will follow”.

To be honest, I never read it. But I love the idea. I still do. I never bought a book that said If you get rejected that means you are rubbish”  I definitely wouldn’t read that! 🙂 But I know that the more you submit your work/art/ideas the more resilient you become to rejection.

We are conditioned, courtesy of the Man from Delmonte and The Bank that likes to say “Yes” to believe that a Yes is always a good thing and a No is always bad.

But is a Yes to a mortgage around our necks till we are too old to do any of the things we could have done if we were not saddled with the crippling interest rates in the first place always a good thing? 

Is “No” always a judgement and rejection? 

If Stephen King, and Elvis, and Vincent Van Gogh had listened to the “No” they heard from people they submitted their work to, look what the world would have missed out on? It is entirely plausible that they considered “NO” to be the opinion of one person, and not the sum or judgement of their work. So they kept on making, writing, painting and making art. And we all have the benefit.

So what would you do if you were not afraid of “NO”? 

What would you make or show to the world if you were aware that some people won’t like it? 

What have you put off doing because you are afraid of rejection? 

What could you do this week knowing that the sky won’t fall if you get a NO? 

People like Thomas Eddison, Madonna, the man who invented the Rubix Cube all heard many rejections before they met someone who liked and appreciated what they did. Chances are your favourite film star, pop star, author didn’t start out with a plethora of “Yes’s”, but they did it anyway……..

So can you.

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