It took J.K. Rowling 17 years to write the Harry Potter series.
Adam Scott originally auditioned for the part of Jim Halpert on The Office. He didn’t get it.
An aspiring author wrote her first draft of a book and sent it off with hopes of publication.
“After rejection number 40, I started lying to my friends about what I did on the weekends. They were amazed by how many times a person could repaint her apartment. The truth was, I was embarrassed for my friends and family to know I was still working on the same story, the one nobody apparently wanted to read.”
In the end, she was turned down 60 times.
Then, after five years of writing and three and a half years of rejection, the 61st agent finally accepted this woman’s idea.
Her name was Katherine Stockett.
Her book was called The Help.
Rejection doesn’t mean your idea is bad or lacks potential. It could mean that, but it doesn’t automatically mean that.
What it does mean, though, is there is still work left to do. I’ve read that Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
What if Katherine Stockett had stopped after her first rejection? Or her 15th? Or her 51st? What if she had stopped working to make the art better?
I know there is a danger of becoming an obsessive workaholic, focused on our own idea of success and accepting nothing less.
That’s a problem all by itself. But what I see and experience more of is the opposite – quitting too soon, losing hope too quickly, and falling into despair at the first sign of rejection or difficulty.
I don’t know what occupies your time today. I don’t know what passions or anxieties you are holding in your hands. I don’t know what kind of project you just gave up on, which relationship you hope to mend, or what dream you are waiting to see realized.
But I do know that part of the art is the process. And part of the process is rejection and disappointment.
How you handle that could be an art all by itself.