By Pamela Moeng
If you are a regular follower of this blog, you know that last year I submitted a novel to the Citizen Book Prize competition. Although my novel was long-listed, short-listed and made it to the top three, it didn’t bag the prize.
To say I was disappointed is obviously an understatement. I’m not a person to pretend something didn’t matter to me if it did and winning that prize mattered to me. On the other hand, I am a person who can and has (repeatedly) picked herself up off the playground tar and limped off to play another day.
I’ve been thinking a lot about rejection since I got the email informing me that “thank you for entering, but your novel didn’t rock us enough to win”. It helped that included with the email was a detailed list of suggestions for strengthening the plot and characters, with a few compliments thrown in. But rejection is rejection.
Whether you are 6, 16, 36 or 60, rejection smarts like a hornet sting on the tush. Reading that email made me feel like the little girl chosen last for the dodge ball game, the teenager whose crush never seemed to see her, and the young woman who failed to clinch that job she wanted.
Yet, if we never failed, why would we ever try harder to learn and grow? Aside from the pinch of the hornet sting, that email also made me study plot and character development all over again and impelled me to read, with a critical eye, those books that gave me “wow!” moments when I read them the first time.
Rejection is a gift. It forces you to dig deeper, try harder, and examine more critically your work. It adds another, slightly tougher, layer to your armour, giving you that much more protection the next time you have to put your work out there in the world.
Will the world like it or toss it back with a gentle or not-so-gentle rejection? A creative soul can’t help but keep facing the world naked and hoping that someone will recognise a kindred spirit and an ounce of value in their art, whatever form that art takes.
There’s a window period of opportunity for that wailing and gnashing of teeth, the pity party that includes a bottle of plonk and a mountain of ice-cream and chocolate sauce, and then you must pull yourself up by your pantyhose, stuff your feet into those stilettos and march right back to your keyboard. After all, practice makes perfect!