The Goal Of Rejection

A long time ago, I had a lofty goal. I wanted to collect fifty rejection letters for my first book, Mentally Incontinent.

It's a romantic thought, you know? I'll submit and submit and submit, and if I get a rejection letter, I won't take it as an insult, it goes into the collection. "I love my rejection slips," Sylvia Plath said. "They show me I try."

Then one day someone told me that goal is shit. "Your goal is shit," they said. Just like that. They then told me my goal should be to publish my work.  It was a total eye-opener. Suddenly, I didn't see "Get a publisher to publish my work" as the only avenue for success. I didn't see the only rules as being “submit and wait.” I remembered that heroes of mine like Henry Rollins and Dave Sim made entire careers out of publishing their own material themselves.

So I did a fuckton of research and work, self published my first book, had a major publisher buy and publish my second book, and the rest is history. Then I wrote an entire guide on doing it yourself.

Being rejected is an easy goal to attain, and it is ego satisfying because it turns this painful experience of rejection into something that feels like success. And it's a total lie, like telling yourself you like to be kicked right in the nuts. "The more I get kicked in the nuts, the closer I get to attaining my goal!"

It's also damaging and hurts like hell, and you teach yourself to smile through the pain and not embrace it.

Having a goal that instead says "I want to publish my work, regardless of the perception of success, because publishing the work IS the success" opens the door to so many more options. It aligns your focus to concentrate on what you really want, instead of lying to yourself to pretend you're actually running to your destination when all you're doing is counting minutes on a treadmill.

Just ask Jeremy Dale, who is now staring down the barrel of a HUGE success with his creator-owned and creator-controlled comic Skyward. It's brilliant, because Jeremy refused for YEARS to compromise his vision to shortcut his goal.

Anytime you put your victory in the hands of someone else deciding for you whether you're good enough or not, you've lost all power.