Have you put your heart and soul into producing something, only to have the idea ridiculed or rejected by those you hoped to impress? Richard Bach would understand. This man was the an author who wrote a creative story about a seagull that discovered the power of flight.
The book was rejected by eighteen publishers according to some sources. Eventually it came to the attention of Eleanor Friede at Macmillan in 1969, and she persuaded Macmillan to buy it. The book?Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Within the space of two years, the book had sold over one million copies, and it was on best-seller lists for nearly a year.
During 1972, Reader’s Digest had published a condensed version, and the book reached the top of the New York Times Best Seller list where it remained for 38 weeks. In 1972 and 1973 the book topped the Publishers Weekly list of bestselling novels in the United States.
Isn’t that often the case? Just when we’re getting ready to give up on a project which seems to have failed miserably, a light comes on and it looks as if there’s hope after all. I wonder how often we give up too soon?
One magazine publisher, when approached to bid on the paperback rights of Jonathan Livingston Seagull remarked that it “will never make it as a paperback.” Well, Avon Books eventually bought those rights and sales totaled more than 7.25 million copies.
Just goes to show. People can be proved wrong!
Here are seven tips on how to help you through a period when your dream seems to be falling apart.
- Accept that you’re not alone. People all around you are being rejected. Their dreams are not understood either. Their romances come to an end. Their vacation plans fall through. They lose their jobs. Their book proposals are rejected. These are inevitable parts of life, so learn to move on.
- See it as a stepping-stone. Don’t let it destroy you. There are other dreams waiting for you round the corner. Learn by your failures, then step on them and rise to the next level.
- Don’t lose faith in your project. Unless the project (like a romance) is clearly over, keep working to improve it. If it’s a book proposal, keep sending it out. Remember Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Your project may still be one that goes places provided you don’t give up.
- Try not to take personally. This can be difficult if the person you love more than anyone else in the world has spurned you. But you know what? If he or she has treated you badly, there is someone better for you. It could be your book proposal was rejected because the editor ran into the back of someone else’s car at the traffic lights. It has nothing to do with you! But he’s not in the mood for reading a book about a seagull learning to fly! So he rejects your book. Not you. Your book.
- Forgive the person who has rejected you, and wish them well. Don’t grant them the power to keep you miserable or ruin a perfectly good day as you mull over the incident. It’s happened. Forgive, and plan the next step.
- Don’t keep hoping the person involved will change his or her mind. It’s unlikely. Had a book proposal rejected? Try another publisher. Lost a boyfriend? Join a club with others of a similar age. Failed a test? Decide whether to take it again next year, or whether to change subjects.
- Keep moving. Rejection stinks, but if you’re going to get anywhere in life, it’ll happen. If you’re a writer, rather put the book or article out there and see what happens than hiding it away on your computer hard drive so it won’t be rejected again. If you’ve lost your job, go out and look for a better one. If a relationship has died, spend time making new friends.
It’s easier to write about this topic than it is to walk through it. I find the easiest rejections are the ones I anticipate. So when I send off an article or story, I move on to the next one. If it comes back, I am pleasantly surpised that the editor has bothered to let me know.
It’s the ones I don’t expect that hurt. The person who claims to love me, then stabs me in the back with her words. The person that promises to support me in a venture, then drops me as well as the project when asked for a commitment. The person who encourages me to make a decision, then fails to back me up when the time comes. I could go on . . .