“The professional cannot take rejection personally because to do so reinforces Resistance. Editors are not the enemy; critics are not the enemy. Resistance is the enemy. The battle is inside our own heads. We cannot let external criticism, even if it’s true, fortify our internal foe. That foe is strong enough already.”

I’ve just been emailed a rejection letter. It’s not the first and it certainly won’t be the last. I had a feeling it was coming, but remained optimistic that maybe the judging panel would see merit in the work I was doing and the benefit of funding the work towards completion. The work in question was the prison farm project on two prisons in Ontario, Canada. Having worked on this project for the past 3 years, it’s so far been a self-funded endeavor and looks like it will remain that way for a little while longer.

Around the time I was awaiting results, and in an attempt to steel myself against this outcome (and the rejections to come) I started reading Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art (this is where the quote that prefaces this post comes from). Hoping to develop emotional calluses I picked up the book a few weeks ago, I can’t say it’s makes an immediate difference in my creative outlook, but I do take comfort in knowing that many creatives experience rejection far more often than they let on. 

Pressfield brings attention to this (along with sharing his own experiences with rejection) and argues that the willingness to subject oneself to rejection time and time again is part of “turning pro”. I might not be pro yet, but I’m working towards it. However many rejections that means…we’ll see. 

While this may read as a poor attempt at self-pity, it’s just as much for my future self as it is for anyone who decides to read these posts—one day I, and you dear reader, will be able to look back on these and reflect on what a journey this has been. 

Thank you for reading.

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