It's time for letter R in my A-Z series "26 Things that Made Me a Writer".
Rejections. They happen to the best of us. I had at least 12 for my first book (currently on the back burner) and goodness knows how many from magazines I've submitted to. I've never once received anything that approached personal feedback, but I still think they've helped me grow as a writer. Why?
For one, they make you more dedicated and committed to the craft. Once you've been rejected a few times then you work even harder to make everything you do the very best. I think writing a first novel is very much a discovery process, which is why not many get published. Although I didn't receive feedback from agents, gut instinct and comments from others (notably my wife) told me what wasn't working. Self-publishing negates the rejection element but you're not going to go far if your writing hasn't been edited and polished til you can see your face in it.
Then there is the "thick skin" aspect. You might get published but then there's every chance you'll have to deal with some bad reviews. If you never got rejected and followed a golden path to having your book printed then you might think people are bound to love it. Rejections teach you to be realistic.
And look at it this way: rejections aren't usually personal and by no means indicate you are a bad writer. It's just your query didn't grab that particular agent or publisher or it didn't fit with their list. Looking for the right one is like a needle in a haystack and the more rejections you get, the more you've narrowed down the field.
How do you handle rejection?