Friday, January 11, 2008

Psychological Cleansing Ritual for Rejection

Psychologist and writer Dr. Sue (Susan O'Doherty) offers a poor rejected writer some interesting advice about what to do with all those pesky piles of literary rejection letters over at Buzz, Balls & Hype. After a fun psychological explanation of the impact of rejection, she suggests the following:

"Consider devising a ritual to commemorate discarding the slips. You may wish to burn them safely in the fireplace or the backyard, or to rip them into tiny pieces while chanting an appropriate mantra. (You can experiment with these until you find the one that allows you to relax your grip. For starters, you might want to try, 'I release your negative energy into the universe and free my manuscript to find its rightful home,' 'May rejection light the way to greater acceptance,' or 'Rot in hell, Atlantic Monthly!' whichever feels most a propos.)

Another possibility is to respond, in writing, on the back of the slips. 'Dear Editor: Thank you for your unwarranted form rejection. I wish you the best of luck in finding decent stories for your stupid magazine. You will need it because obviously you have no literary taste whatever.' Then rip them up and throw them away.

The point is to attend to and placate any part of yourself that may feel angry, hurt, or unfinished, without doing yourself professional damage or cluttering up your house. Pay attention to your feelings about the slips--not what you think you ought to feel but what happens in your gut when you read them--and respond symbolically. Chances are good that you will you clear space not only on your desk but in your psyche as well."

It's worth hopping on over to BB&H to read the entire post.


me said...

Having been a psych major in college, for a couple of semester at least, I feel uniquely qualified to give my opinion here. Just throw them in the trash. Or recycle, I guess, if you're green and all.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever see the bit on Black Books where Bernard is writing a letter back to the editor that rejected his novel? Wonderfully cathartic. I LOVE Dylan Moran.

Poor Struggler said...

There is something satisfying about burning your rejections slips. Too bad we can't throw people on a bonfire.

TIV: the individual voice said...

Creating rituals for putting the past behind you is a longstanding psychotherapy intervention, particularly in family therapy, but rooted in our primal roots. The catchphrase among those of us trained in family therapy was always "burning, burying and freezing" and within those categories there were many, many options. Maybe I'll post on it. I still use the term for certain kinds of problems with my patients.

Writer, Rejected said...

Dude: You're a shrink? Cool.