See I entered a contest, and I poured my heart into the piece I wrote, I actually cared what happened to it. For a long time I've done what a lot of authors do, I send things off and then try to forget about them. I don't want to worry and I try to believe I have developed a thicker skin, because rejection is everywhere. There is in fact, more rejection than acceptance in the world of art. It is there for everyone. And sometimes, I still cry.
An artist gets rejected every day. Some days multiple times. People judge the art, and this next part is true for every creative person, people judge you. They say things like: I could make that. Why would I pay $100 for a painting my child could do? Since I'm family I should get a painting (or whatever) for free. That's not art, that's just porn someone is pretending to be art. These are so dark, I wonder what is wrong with the artist. And people say these things right in front of you. They don't care that you might hear them, they don't care that their words sting, and they don't care because creativity is judged.
If you are an actor/actress you are judged every time you walk into an audition. Often there is never feedback. Often you are told you are wrong for a part. Often you see the names of your friends in the post-audition list, and while you want to be happy for them, it hurts a little. Sometimes bitterness arises, and sometimes friendships don't last, but the actor/actress is the person who is hardest on themselves. More often than not we walk away from an audition hoping we get a part, but also critiquing what we might have done wrong. Every movie or play or commercial or TV show you are in is judged. Critics are not always kind, and often they don't take feelings into consideration. If someone is bland in a movie, they critique the person, and forget that the person is not the character they play. Again, they are constantly judged.
It's the same with writing. An author reads the story, book, poem, or play to an audience who may or may not enjoy it. They show people their heart and soul, just like every other creative person. They send out query after query, hoping to pick up a publisher or an agent, but often being told that their work is not right for the agent or publisher they sent their query to. Often authors are never told how to make things better. Often authors are never told why they are being rejected.
All creative people who share their works are putting their hearts and souls out there for people to view. Even if it doesn't seem like it, they are all in.
It has been a long time since I have cared what happened to something I submitted. I am so used to rejection I don't even hope.This time, however, I allowed myself to hope. I wrung my hands together wondering if people would like what I submitted. I was wondering if it was good enough. I was wrought with stress and anxiety going over and over in my mind what could have been written better. The play I wrote was personal. My soul bled when I wrote it. I cried when I wrote it. I teared up when I read it in a writer's critique group. My heart beat faster every day after I sent it on. Anxiety burnt through me, creating a hole that stress filled. The story was hard on me. After I wrote it I didn't want to share it. I was afraid anyone who read it would feel differently about me. I was afraid I had written too much of myself into it.
Then, through Facebook, I found that I wasn't selected as a finalist. I was crushed. I cried. I cried because I wanted this. I cried because I wanted people to know. I cried because I felt I was letting down my friend, myself, and every other military wife who has gone through the difficulty of being a military wife. I cried for my broken soul. I cried because I cared. I cried because I suddenly felt my heart breaking and doubt filling me. I cried because I wasn't good enough, once again.
In fact I cry as I write this blog. I'm not just upset for myself, I am upset for every creative person who feels beat down and broken. I am upset for every creative person who feels like they can no longer do it, no longer take the criticism, no longer take the judgement, no longer take the rejection.
I questioned myself yesterday. I asked if I was just kidding myself. I asked if I was a horrible author. I asked if I should just give up. Why write if I may am never good enough?
Then I told people I wanted to give up. I told people I was broken. And in turn they told me, don't. These people had heard the passion in my voice as I talked about writing. They had been there when I told others that if they felt like they needed to and enjoyed it, they too should write. They had been there when I invited hesitant new authors to the writer's critique groups I am in. I cried again. Most of these people haven't even read anything I have written, they had only heard me talk about writing, the process, the enjoyment, and the love of helping other authors grasp onto their own hesitant and fearful desire to write.
Creative people put themselves into the path of judgement and rejection every time they share their creative outlet. Most of the time they pretend rejection, criticism, and judgement doesn't hurt, in fact they are so used to it they no longer feel it. Then again, yesterday I cried.
I cried when I wrote conversation the wife of an injured soldier, and her best friend, had about her husband's PTSD.
I cried when I wrote a scene where this same wife hears a gunshot from another room as her husband ends his life.
I cried when that same wife stood as TAPS was played and stoically took the folded flag handed to her at her husband's graveside.
I cried when I wrote the last scene of that same wife sending her son off to boot camp.
I cried when I wrote this play. I cried yesterday. I cried today.
Maybe I need thicker skin.