Dealing with Rejection: Theatre Wisdom for Writers


Rejection is an unfortunate part of being a writer. And an actor. And, well, any sort of artist, really.

So far this year, I’ve received two rejections from short story anthologies, and one from a character/role I really, really wanted.

Rejections are disappointing and disheartening – no other way around it. They make me question what I did wrong, but that is never the right question.

Better questions: what can I now do better? What might offer a better venue for this art?

Because honestly, acceptance is subjective. (Unless, of course, you couldn’t bother to follow the guidelines. Never smart.) And we constantly learn. We learn from each finished draft, each rejection, each time we step on a stage. By doing, we learn and improve.

But is it fair? No, not always. Not even usually. Welcome to life.

But really, despite the disappointment, each time is a win. Each email in my inbox saying, “Thank you for submitting but we’ve decided not to use your story,” still means I wrote a story. I put in the time and energy and effort to make it as good as I could and I took that huge, integral step toward the life and career I want and submitted it. Or the emails, “Thank you for auditioning, but we’ve cast the show.” Those mean I swallowed my excuses and stage fright (yes, I get¬†stage fright) and auditioned.

After all, I have no power over whether or not the editors or directors choose me; I can only give the best work I am capable of. And if I don’t try, I’ll never get anywhere.


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