Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dealing with Rejection

I always thought of myself as a resilient person.  Like most of us out there, I've had my share of sorrow, and I've allowed that sorrow to strengthen me.

But I still hate rejection.  So, when I wasn't selected for two juried shows I entered over the winter and when an agent who had looked carefully at a couple of the picture books and novels for children that I'm working on decided not to represent me, I shut down.  Sort of.  I stopped posting.  I stopped completing quilts.  I stopped working on my novel.   This has happened before.  I've been rejected before.  I've shut down temporarily.  I use all the excuses in my arsenal for why I "can't" do the work right now--work, family, technology, etc.  Thankfully, so far every time I've felt knocked down by rejection, I've come back from that rejection stronger and with new visions and ideas.  (Cue Chumbawumba "Tubthumping" and dance in your seats.)

I hate that what other people think of my work can make me shut down.  I want to be one of those people who say, "Oh, well.  That's one person's or panel's view, there is someone out there who will see the value in this."  But I'm not, yet.  I'm working on it.

Now, I'm starting to think that the cocooning I go through after some rejection is the way I work on it.  I go inside for a little while.  I start to listen to my own voice instead of rehearsing what  I imagine other people will think, and I continue to work in small ways.  In quilting, it might be creating sweet little yo yos out of a variety of fabrics.  In writing, it might be writing a blog post or working on the letter to the next agent or doing research for the next book.

I've been pretty tough on myself over the last few months for not working, but really, I have been working.  Not big splashy work, but the little incremental work that can lead to things like a quilt with 150 yo yos or a new idea for a book or a new little poem that sparks many more.  I have been working, not in the big, "look at me ways," but in the small ways that build my craft and create the foundation for new growth. Next time I'm rejected, I hope that I'm able to be a little more gentle with myself as I go inside to recollect and renew my vision.  Hey, maybe it's time to send that work out to a new agent. And though it isn't juried, I worked up enough courage to take my quilt "Wrack Line III: The Treasures Darkness Brings" to DVAC for the member show.  Baby steps.

Also, I realize that somtimes I might finish a quilt and it may look just like I planned it, and it still might not be good enough.  That's okay.  For your enjoyment, I'm sharing the work that was rejected from the RustTex collection.  The four square quilts at the top of this post seem finished to me.  The do what I set out to do, but people in my groups have felt that they are somehow not quite right.  Since they feel finished to me, I'm having a hard time seeing my way through to work on them further.  The larger quilt is based on the serendipitious quilt I made from scraps, but it's much bigger.  Indeed, it was too big for Rust-Tex.  Next time, I'll read the size limitations before I work on a quilt.  Silly me. 
Don't worry if I don't post for the next week or so, I haven't gone back into a cave, I'll be cooking at Catoctin Quaker Camp and visiting my Mom.  When I get back, I'll share the weekly quilts that I finally started working on. 


JafaBrit's Art said...

I'm sorry Lori :(. I would say keep trusting your inner creative voice and let it sing.

Pam Geisel - For Quilts Sake said...

I can't remember if I've seen the bottom photo completed or not, but I think it's incredible! Love it, love it, love it!

JafaBrit's Art said...

ps. I forgot to add I really liked the four pieces in the top photo.

Grace said...

Lori....funny that you should write about not working right now. I, too, was unable to work for a long while (other committments) and today did a post about finding my mojo. When it comes back again it feels so darned good. I know it goes without saying but try not to be too hard on yourself...the breaks can only be good for us in the end.

Deborah said...

They look finished to me, and I particularly like the colors in the larger one. As long as you continue to have ideas you're still working. Have a good trip!

Anonymous said...

My thoughts: I like the four pieces at the top, and if they seem finished to you, they are. Sometimes we have to ignore what others say. Although the input from a group can be very helpful when we are stuck and when we ask for advice, they should just keep suggestions to themselves when we show them a completed piece. If we aren't inspired to do more, that means we're done. I was recently on deadline when someone tried to help with a suggestion to make my piece more photogenic. I hope I wasn't rude when I said "No way, it's done."

As for our work being rejected, even the best have been rejected.

Remember: This is supposed to be fun. As for the writing, my daughter is a mystery writer, and people who read her love her books. But she doesn't have the numbers, so there's always the worry that her current series could be her last. I hope not.

LaughingLG said...

Thank you all for your feedback. It is part of my journey to learn to trust myself. I'm just not there yet. Thanks Ruth and JafaBrit for your comments on my four quilts on top. Thanks Pam and Deborah for your positive feedback. Grace, it does feel great to get the Mojo back, and I enjoyed your post.