Sensitive artist? – Get over it!

Recently, I read this article on Mark Malatesa’s blog about how a speaking/training engagement he and his wife presented didn’t go as well as planned: It really got me thinking…

I know writers are sensitive about rejection and about learning and being pushed out of their comfort zone. I also know that if you never leave your comfort zone, you’ll never grow.

Learning = Growing.

After reading the blog post I realized I’m one of the people who wouldn’t have walked out of the room. I’m one of the people who would have stayed and took value from the efforts they were putting forth with the “Author Hot Seat” exercise. I want to learn, and I want to grow.

I’m one of those oddball people who will intentionally JUMP out of my comfort zone in an effort to get past what makes me uncomfortable. For example… A few years ago, one of my writing goals was to send out a set number of submissions in one year. (I’m thinking it was 100 or 150.) I submitted around 200 times in that year, smashing my goal. It was also my most published year. It wasn’t about writing new pieces, it was about putting myself out there and practicing following guidelines, and MOST OF ALL, it was about taking away the sting of rejection.

I basically beat any negative feelings associated with a rejection out of myself. When I received a rejection, it wasn’t about not being published anymore, it was about sending it out again and increasing my submission count. I got to the point where I actually looked forward to rejections so that I could turn around and send the piece out again. (Most were poetry or short stories.)

Don’t get me wrong, I was equally excited about acceptances, because that’s what I was really after. I just found a way to make rejection work for me.

I beat the sensitive artist bullshit out of my system. There’s nothing wrong with being sensitive, mind you, but you need to control it and get over yourself in some areas. It’s awesome to be sensitive when you’re writing a story, or a song, or giving a character depth, but it has to stay there. Like it or not, writing is a business. You have to treat the sales/publication end of writing as the business that it is! Which means, rejection isn’t personal. It is just business! I don’t know of any editors who actually like sending rejections. Believe me, they WANT to publish things that are up to par and meet their needs.

Since I’ve trained myself to not take rejections personally, I’ve actually had editors who’ve rejected my work give me compliments on how I’ve dealt with the rejection. I don’t know… Maybe since I’ve built a name for myself and have been widely published by a variety of small presses in the Indie community, people think I’m going to be a diva. Nope. I have no interest in getting upset. I’ve been on the editing end and I know the reason some rejections come about (something else that helps me). I know they aren’t targeting me or singling me out.

I’m glad that pushing myself out of my comfort zone has helped me grow, and through those comments/compliments from editors I respect, I know I’ve grown more professional because of my self-inflicted experience.

People like Mark and Ingrid who will spend their time trying to help writers grow should be valued – people only help when they care. They wanted to help those writers, but those writers still had rainbows and kittens in their writer’s vision, and they hadn’t felt the cold sting of rejection over and over – the polish used to make writers truly shine.

If you’re going to be a writer, write. Just don’t expect everything to be easy and to stay within your comfort zone. You’re going to have to face harsh realities.

Value what those who know more than you try to teach you. Even if it hurts a little.  If you have to, beat the sensitivity out of yourself like I did.

Don’t be the one to walk out and quit on yourself or those who have faith in you because they aren’t stroking your sensitive little ego.



©Rebecca Besser, 2013. All rights reserved.


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