One of the questions I often ask authors I’m interviewing is “What advice do you have for a beginning writer?” The answers vary, but one seems to pop up over and over—you have to develop a thick skin. For some people this is more difficult than it is for others.
When I was the principal of a school, I led my faculty and staff in a year-long training program aimed at helping them to understand the personality differences of the students in their classrooms as well as those they worked with. Basically, there are four distinct personalities which fall into the following categories: (1) the nurturer who wants peace and harmony to prevail and gets his/her feelings hurt easily, (2) the organized, responsible person who values strength and stability, (3) the thinker who uses mind over emotion, and (4) the playful one who seizes the moment and makes quick decisions.
Now the reality is that we are really a mixture of all of these types, but one of them is dominant in our lives. I’ve had occasion to encounter several writers in the last few weeks who have either gotten a rejection from an agent or an editor or they’ve received a bad review of their newly released book. It’s very evident that when faced with a disappointing situation, we react the way our personality dictates.
For instance, the nurturer feels wounded and unloved because their work wasn’t valued; the one who values strength and stability begins to evaluate how he/she can improve the story based on suggestions given; the thinker has to ponder and analyze every remark and try to come to a logical conclusion that explains the lack of understanding and insight of the agent/editor; and the playful one shrugs his shoulders, tosses the rejection aside, and yells “Let’s go have a party.”
I have to admit my basic personality is that of the nurturer. However, in my job as a principal I had to develop the organized, responsible side of myself that could make decisions knowing I couldn’t make everybody happy all the time. I didn’t know it at the time, but God was giving me a tough skin in preparation for what He had planned for me later on.
Now when I experience rejection by an editor or receive a negative review, I can face it even if it does still sting a little. As long as we are following God’s leading, He’s going to put us where we need to be. So, if you’ve encountered rejection this week, don’t be sad. Think of it as one more step in God’s plan to make you the person He wants you to be.
I’d like to know how you face rejection. Which personality type are you? How do you react when rejection comes your way?