Friday, October 8, 2010

Handle Disappointment With Class

Last night, K-State played Nebraska for the final time. For nearly a century, these two schools have battled it out on a one-hundred yard field. Admittedly, Nebraska has won the vast majority, but K-State has been on top a few times, too. Nebraska is leaving the Big 12 conference next year for the Big 10. So this final game was definitely a significant one. K-State was pumped up as were the fans. The stadium was filled to capacity and then over a hundred more. Anticipation kept our community on a high all week. Besides all that, it was our coach's birthday. The team planned to give him a special birthday present in beating the mighty Nebraska Cornhuskers.

We couldn't have asked for a better night for football. Perfect weather. But things didn't work out like we'd hoped. In fact, they didn't even come close. Nebraska, with its greater speed and extremely talented quarterback, managed to beat us soundly. An embarrassing 48-13 loss for the Wildcats. The fans were deeply disappointed, and I'm sure the team was, as well. I watched people as they filed silently out to the parking lot, passing the hordes of Nebraska fans cheering and jeering, but our fans handled their disappointment with class.

It's much the same when we writers get a rejection on our work. Submitting a piece of writing and then waiting a long time to hear from an editor opens us up for major disappointment. It's not so much anger as it is having our hopes dashed. When we read that message which tells us our work isn't right for whatever publication, we experience the gamut of reactions--disappointment, anger, frustration, depression. We might feel like kicking the nearest piece of furniture or throwing something at a wall, but what does that get you in the end? Not much other than a sore foot or a dirty, maybe dented, wall.

We need to learn to handle rejection with class every bit as much as those fans who grapple with a crushing game defeat. Sure, you'll still be disappointed, but pick yourself and move on to the next market. Don't ever stop submitting something you've written after one rejection. It may not have been a fit for the first one, but it could be for the fourth or fifth. Before you submit again, go for a long walk and do some thinking about what you wrote. Was it your best effort? Is there a way it can be made better? Go home and read it with fresh eyes and then find your next market.

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