The other day, I got my first rejection letter for my novel. The rejection itself stung, even though it was couched in very nice words. But I can’t say that it was entirely unexpected. First of all, many of our favorite books were rejected by at least an agent or publisher or two. Not saying that my book is the next great American novel, but that rejection is a part of this business. Second of all, some people say you should throw your first novel in a drawer and never let it see the light of day. Now that seems a little extreme, especially since I care so much for my characters and the men who inspired them. But now that I’ve written my second novel (a complete digression, if you were wondering), I understand the part experience can play in becoming an author.
In moving on, I have begun to consider how I can turn this obstacle into an opportunity. How can I transform what I’ve written? View it with new eyes? Take away the pain and see only possibility?
And luckily for me, I only have to look as far as the men of For Men Only for a pick-me-up. Most of them were drafted. I doubt any of them figured a world war into their plans for the future. But they took their talents and created an opportunity out of an obstacle. They somehow managed to end up doing something that they loved in the middle of the biggest obstacle of their lifetime.
But they weren’t unique! Many of the thousands of men and women who served in different capacities during the war managed to turn that obstacle into an opportunity: to gain independence, to develop leadership skills, to break down barriers, and to build this country into what it is today. I will always admire that.
And in the face of that courage and determined optimism, one rejection letter seems pretty puny.
One of my favorites, that I think might be tailor-made for moments like this:
Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive