Ah the old rejection. Whatever way you come at it, it’s a bit of a git, isn’t it? But here’s a piece on the RTÉ that might make budding writers feel a teeny bit better …
click here to listen or read on to…emm…read on…
Some take on the role of clairvoyant when it comes to the young. A career in science might await the curious, arboriculture for the tree-climbers. The lad munching on dandelions and crane-flies might even turn out to be a gourmet chef. When I was a kid, I had this sky blue schoolbag with an image of a bird on the front. It might have passed under the radar in junior infants but I was nine at the time and putting some serious thought into whether I should take on a persona of cool loner type or popular wild man. Neither of which required a bag with a cartoon canary on the front.
A simple plan was put into action, a sharp implement found and the strap severed. I assumed this mischief would be put down to normal wear and tear but on getting home from school that day, my father quickly informed me that he ‘wasn’t ‘made of schoolbags’ and the strap was repaired with electrical insulation tape. The plan was tried the following day and a number of times after, to the point that the strap was covered in so much tape it was completely inflexible and could pretty much stand up all by itself. Right there and then I should have realised I was a born to be a writer. Because it takes a certain type of person to willingly commit themselves to a failed ritual in the hope of somehow receiving a different result. And rejection is one thing that goes hand in hand with the arts.
But, unlike my bag vandalism, rejection doesn’t necessarily mean the work is bad. Post Harry Potter, JK Rowling received a number of refusals when submitting under a pseudonym, one of which even recommended she take a writing course. She went as far as sharing her rejection letters on Twitter to inspire budding writers. While George Orwell claimed that public opinion can often dictate a publisher’s agenda, as well as fear of political repercussions.
For some, the job a writer might conjure up images of quiet readings and sedate book launches. For others, it could be a darker one of grammar police and font snobs, those anonymous online reviewers who rate books according to their opinion of an author’s haircut in their bio photo. For me, when I think about what it means to be a writer, I sometimes see this image of a fly, tired and disorientated, butting against a windowpane time and time again. Rejection, in any area of your life, forces you to re-examine your stance. It can either reaffirm belief in direction or unearth mistakes. Or at the very least, to misquote Mr Beckett, it might even lead to a ‘better fail’ on the next try.