Confession: Rejection Has Made Me Stronger

So, 2015 hasn’t gotten off to the best start for me. Since January 1st, life has punched me in the gut more than a few times. I won’t go into details, but things have been rough lately–emotionally and financially. And it seems every time I regain my balance, something else happens and I’m knocked down again.

Last week, during a conversation with my family, I threw my hands up in the air and declared, “That’s it! The only way I can handle the negative is by being positive.”

Right after I said that, it hit me: My writing and alllll the rejection that has come with it has made me a stronger person.

Yes, as strange as it sounds, rejection has strengthened me. Years and years of “No!” from agents, publishers, and readers has made me more determined, more resilient, and more optimistic.

How, you ask? Well, let me explain.

Big dreams take a lot of work, a lot of patience, and a lot of perseverance. Every day, you’re forced to find “the light at the end of the tunnel,” even when there isn’t one. When your tank runs out of gas, you have to keep trucking along. When you get knocked down, the only thing you can do is pick yourself back up and fight ten times harder.

And it’s that “never say die” attitude that has gradually seeped into the rest of my life: Family. Work. Relationships. Finances. Health. When the going gets tough, I get tougher. When things around me fall apart, I pull them back together. When every possible solution fails, I find another–or make one up and pray to God it works.

Honestly, if I hadn’t heard “No!” again and again during my long writing journey, I wouldn’t be who I am today, I’d crumble easier, I’d lose hope faster, and I’d constantly get bogged down in the past and refuse to look to the future.

So, let me reassure all of you who are feeling down and out because you’ve received yet another “Thanks, but no thanks” response to a query letter, or a bad review, or some other form of “No!”

It’s okay.

Really.

I know rejection hurts–a lot. But, I promise, it will make you stronger in the long run. Whether you’re aware of it or not, every “No!” will thicken your skin, fuel your determination, and teach you the fine art of optimism.

And, before you know it, those valuable traits will carry over into all aspects of your life.

…Especially those “punch in the gut” moments that drop you to your knees and try to keep you down. Thanks to rejection, you’ll have the strength to get back up and keep moving. Keep fighting. Keep hoping.

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One Year Blogiversary – How My Blog Saved Me

I can’t believe it! Jen’s Pen Den has been up and running for a year!

So, I’m not sure if I’ve ever told you about why I started Jen’s Pen Den. It wasn’t because I was bored, or curious, or eager to the take the next step in building my author platform. It was because I was on the verge of quitting. Of giving up on writing all together.

Last August, I was in a low, low place. The option contract on my YA manuscript had expired months before, and my attempts to find new representation had failed. Everyone who passed on it kept telling me the same thing: “We like it, but we don’t love it.”

In other words, “It’s meh”.

AKA, “You’re a meh writer”.

AKA, “You suck, your writing sucks, and you’ll never be good enough to succeed in this business.”

Suffice it to say, I was devastated. I stopped writing and contemplated what I should do. I didn’t want to give up–that’s not in my nature–but what else could I do? Start a new book? Ha! Why? I was a “meh” writer. Why spend a billion hours on a book that was just going to get the same lukewarm reactions from agents and publishers?

Because you love writing, a stubborn inner voice reminded me.

Oh. That.

Ugh.

I battled myself for months. I didn’t know what to do. Start writing a new book? Or start looking for a new career? Fight for my dreams? Or throw in the towel? Punch and kick and scream? Or crumple up and cry?

Solution: Start a blog.

I had no idea what blogging was or how to run one, and I had no idea if starting one would help me climb out of the black pit I’d fallen into. But I had to try. I had to do something. I wasn’t ready to give up on my dreams yet.

It was one of the best decisions of my life.

In essence, my blog saved me. Within a few weeks of starting Jen’s Pen Den, I climbed out of the black pit I’d tumbled into. Hope returned–slowly but surely–and I gradually rose up and struck back at those vicious doubts inside of me. “Give up, give up, give up!” soon turned into “Fight, fight, fight!” I entered writing contests, started a new book, wrote a short story, and finally had the strength to tear up my old YA manuscript and start over completely.

Now, almost a year later, I’m happier and more passionate than I’ve ever been about writing. I’ve kicked all of those ugly doubts in the butt and knocked them down for good.

One of the main reasons I’ve been able to fight back is because of you guys.  You helped raise me up out of that black pit with your friendships, encouragements, and long distance cheerleading. I can’t thank you enough for your support.

…I’m not crying. I’m not!

Out of curiosity, I went to my stats page and looked up the top ten posts of the year. If you’d like to check them out, here you go!

Top Ten Posts

  1. The Worst Ways to Begin Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents
  2. How Do You Share Backstory Information
  3. Chasing Monsters – NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge Entry
  4. About Jen
  5. Stop the presses. Literacy isn’t important. Technology is
  6. “Muck and Mire” – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction 2013
  7. Into Paradise – Final Round Entry – NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge
  8. Book Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  9. Jen’s Pen
  10. Over The Edge – 2nd Round Entry – NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge

Thanks again for all of your awesome support. Here’s to another year of blogging and writing!

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