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The Art of Rejection

As anyone who’s ever been rejected by the likes of something like The Writers’ Academy or the BBC e-Commissioning system knows, good news tends to come during the week in the middle of the day; bad news comes at approximately 5pm and ALWAYS on a Friday. This has prompted me to label such emails as “FFOFs”: “Friday F**k off at five”, something many other writers seem to understand and have their own versions of, so conversations can go a bit like this:

WRITER 1: How’d you do with your pitch/ treatment/ proposal /spec / whatever?

WRITER 2: Got the FFOF last week.

WRITER 1: Ah, bad luck.

When you first start writing, every single rejection half-kills you. This is because you’re taking your first steps and every time someone says your script isn’t right or good enough, even if they’re nice about it, you won’t realise and it *feels* like a personal attack. As the years go by, you develop a much thicker skin. You begin to realise that just because your pitch or script has been rejected, doesn’t automatically mean you are a crap writer and should quit; you should just keep on and find the person or company who IS looking for a script or writer like you.

But even if you are experienced in the art of getting rejected, sometimes a particular rejection still cuts deep. Other times, you are able to shrug and say stuff like, “Oh well, I didn’t expect to get through really, it was a cheeky submission” or “I didn’t *really* like that idea/company/director/producer/whatever, it’s a lucky escape”; but every now and again a rejection still has the potential to really get under your skin and give you the type of rage and hurt you were prone to when you were a newbie. Maybe it’s because you worked extremely hard on something, then got moved off it by a philistine producer; other times it’s because you’ve laboured over a spec and poured your heart and soul in, only to be met with “Meh”.

Whatever the case, forget the hurt – but use that rage: use it to be better than you were before and make them sorry in retrospect they rejected you. Every successful writer has a veritable bagful of rejection letters, email responses and walls of silences about their work and most say, with gusto, “So and So rejected it/didn’t like it/told me I was shit.” That is your reward and your revenge – so get there and take it.

David has a brilliant take on dealing with his version of the FFOF, the “Friday F**K You” over at his blog, Vicious Imagery: read it here.

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1 thought on “The Art of Rejection”

  1. rejection is hard but part of the process unfortunately and I find it strengthens my resolve to keep on keeping on – it also does tend to separate the wheat from the chaff. Only if you truly love something will you subject yourself to repeated pain and disappointment to keep doing it.

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