The working world can be rough and tough on women in a male-dominated workplace. Rejection of ideas, suggestions and new approaches is commonplace. We’ve all experienced the hurt many times. Since we at Imagine Productions strongly believe that inclusion and acceptance for women in a male-dominated workplace require speaking up and getting noticed, we understand that you will experience rejection when you do.
To give you comfort, we’d like to take a moment to think about how women have dealt with rejection. Rejection is not yours alone to suffer. Sadly, rejection is a part of the process.
We’ve all heard tales about rejection letters sent to hopeful authors. Writers, many who pour years of effort and passion into their manuscripts, are told again and again that their work has no merit. Screenwriters, for example, have a 3% acceptance rate. I think it is helpful to hear about their rejections because of how so many of them persisted despite being told their efforts were no good. Remember them and their abilities to believe in their worth and their dogged persistence when your workplace deals you set backs or indignities.
Writers like J. K. Rowling, Ursula K. Le Guin, Sylvia Plath, and Alice Munro all received rejection letters from publishers for their first works. The letters were of varying degrees of politeness, from crushingly rude to patronizingly kind. None of these authors had yet been published or the response would have been quite different. Of course, as you realize, all of them went on to become best-selling, world-renowned authors. Those who didn’t have the fortitude to persist, whose names don’t know, did not.
As unproven money earners, they were rejected for the “unreadability” of their manuscripts, because their books were “confused and muddled”, because “there is nothing particularly new and exciting here and it could be so easily overlooked, or sampled quickly and forgotten.” These women were judged “unreadable” because they didn’t seem likely candidates to fill publishers’ coffers.
Not only women are subjected to rejection of course. It happens to men, too. But here’s an odd twist: J.K. Rowling didn’t use her first name (Joanne) when submitting her Harry Potter books in an attempt to avoid the gender bias. But, later, writing as Robert Galbraith, she was sent a very condescending rejection letter giving detailed instructions for her to read Bookseller magazine for advice and given guidance on how to “send an alluring 200-word blurb” of her story with a S.A.E. She was by then a multi-millionaire from the proceeds of her Harry Potter books.
Yes, rejection hurts, but it is part of life for everyone. When you are rejected for your proposal or suggestion, use the rejection as a chance to learn and to toughen yourself. There is a probability that it wasn’t personal, but just a part of the usual stock answer to new ideas. Explore your feelings and ask yourself how much it really matters on the grand scale of rejections. You have your job, your health, your sanity. And assume the best rather than the worst. And try again with different words, to another person, on another day. Your future and your self-worth depends upon your willingness to speak up on your own behalf.
The title of this blog post and the disheartening rejection letters are taken from a piece written by Nathalie Sejean for Mentorless. Take a look at what she wrote here. There’s more here on the subject at LitHub in an article by Senior Editor Emily Temple, Rejection Letters.
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