Rejection: It’s Just a Thing
My agent has several publishers looking over my book. He has warned me it is inevitable some of them will say no. I already have my strategy figured out. I have to admit I am not too worked up about rejection though. I only asked one girl to marry me and she said yes, and I got to attend Sandhills U. to study medicine. Both were perfect for me so any rejections that might come along in life now are not the end of the world.
They used to ask the great golfer Dr. Cary Middlecoff if he worried over short putts, and he said, “No, if I miss my wife loves me and we’re still gonna eat steak tonight.” I always did like Dr. Middlecoff. By the way, he was also a dentist. He started out in the service, and once said he pulled ten thousand teeth before he realized the army had another dentist.
I knew a boy back in high school who was a short stubby little guy, and he was very matter of fact about rejection. He was Harvey High’s version of Charlie Brown. He said rejection was just part of life. As we’d say in bluegrass it was just a thing.
Every year when it came time for the prom, this fellow made him a list of who he was gonna call for a date, and it included every girl in the Year Book. He would start with the Homecoming Queen and work his way down the list until someone said yes. If it bothered him he never let on. The first year he went with his cousin.
But every year he fared a little better. He grew taller, and his acne went away. He shucked his glasses for contacts. He studied hard, did well in school and became a very successful professional. He married a beautiful girl he met in college and they had two beautiful children. He was as one of my bluegrass friends would say, “a guy who punted way past his coverage.”
I was good friends with this guy, and he had not an ounce of bitterness from his ugly duckling start. But as opposed to some of the football stars from those days, he remembered enough about rejection to never take his people for granted. Once the boy committed to his girl he never wavered. When the old cheerleader who had shunned came to call once he was on top of the world, he turned her away. He didn’t brag about it or belittle her one bit. In fact he didn’t tell anybody. The cheerleader told the Beauty Operator who told his cousin who told me. He didn’t have any meanness in him, but he also learned early on to stick with folks when they were good to you.
I have read that Alison Krauss has been like that with her record label. They picked her up when she was unknown, and others turned her down. (I don’t see how anyone could have overlooked her ability, though) Later after she got famous everyone wanted to sign her, but she stuck with the record label she started out with. Like my buddy she knew to “dance with who brung ya.”
I am the same way about my agent, except I ain’t gonna dance with him. He brought me along when I didn’t have any idea how to write. (I hear you; “Call me when he’s finished, Doc.”) They told Bill Monroe when he hit the Opry if he was gonna leave he’d have to fire himself. My gig is not that big a deal, but I told my agent the same thing.
So we’ll see how the publisher world works out. But I’ll never forget our high school Charlie Brown’s wedding. He said after you get to marry the red haired girl, there aren’t many rejections that make much difference, and all these years later he hasn’t changed. I was lucky in that way too; me and Marfar have seen it all twice, and are still tight after decades down the bluegrass road together.
So when the pink slips start coming in, I’ll just work my way down the publisher list till I find someone to say yes. If that means I take my cousin to the prom and self-publish, so be it. If Grisham can sell books out of the trunk his car I sure ain’t too proud to do so.
All I ever wanted out of my book was an artistic success, to show the truth about modern medicine, and to get the privilege to introduce bluegrass to some folks who were not familiar with our music. All indications are I’ll get to do that.
So in closing…… hey wait a minute…. the phone is ringing. I better get it. It might be my cousin the publisher. Gotta split. See ya.
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