Rejection…We are all familiar with it, we have all dealt with it at some point in our lives, either in a major or minor way. It hurts. Yet, as artists we seem to welcome rejection. That is why I call my blog, Art on a limb, because I am constantly putting myself (my work) out on a limb for all to see. Are we masochistic? Do we enjoy the pain? Why else would we continually offer our work, our brain children, as a sacrifice for the masses to accept or reject? Why else would we put a piece of ourselves out there, over and over again to be judged?
The answers may surprise you. They surprised me! Quite simply, sometimes we do enjoy the pain. No, we don’t seek rejection. Every time we put our work in front of someone, we hope they will love it as we love it. We want it to be accepted. Maybe, as artists, we never truly feel accepted so we seek approval. The times we hope for approval are the times we know the work needs improving. We are hoping someone disagrees, but we secretly know our brain child isn’t fully mature and ready to greet the world. Deeper than that, we know when our work is good enough and we don’t need someone else to tell us when it is. Sometimes our work is a child sitting on the limb, swinging its feet with simple happiness. Sometimes it is hanging from the limb by a noose, confirming what we already suspected.
I recently submitted my self published book to a publisher. The publisher does not take unsolicited manuscripts so I was excited they had agreed to review my work. I carefully chose the pages to submit, along with a couple of illustrations and mailed them with high hopes. I was not surprised when the rejection letter came. After all, I had decided to go back to college after writing the book, simply because I knew it needed to be done better! I am disappointed, but not at all discouraged. As many artists up for awards comment, it was an honor just to be considered. Although the publisher praised my work and simply said it was not right for them, I know it needs to be improved. I have invested four years and an obscene amount of money into improving my skills so I can improve that book. I love what I do. I hope someday, it is all I do and that I always love it. I hope I always welcome rejection letters with a glad heart.
Do you know why we inflict pain on ourselves regularly? Because it means we are artists! We are working our craft. We are raising our children to go out and face the world. We have something to say and hanging out on this limb, we know we have the courage to say it loudly and with pride.