When you are not your work
Recently we had a guest on Writers Chatroom, Bruce Cook, who said, "You are not your work." He said this responding to a question about handling rejections. Anyone who submits their work for publication learns to deal with those. We have to suffer the momentary sting and then let it roll off our backs.
I know what you're thinking: Easier said than done. How many of us put our hearts and souls into our writing? ALL of us. We put our thoughts and ideas out there in our stories. So many writers admit to having a part of themselves in every character. Interviewers often ask about this symbiotic relationship between us and our writing. It's ourselves we are baring for the world. So how then do we take this advice and accept that we are not our work when it seems to us that it is as much of our flesh and blood as our children are?
Taking his words to heart simply means the rejections are aimed at the work and not you. The rejection letter or email is saying , "this story is not right for us at this time." They are not making personal judgements of you as a person, but accessing if this piece fits into the puzzle which makes up their publication. It is a good idea to take any personal comments included to heart and consider revising but remember rejections are only the opinion of one person's perceptions of their needs for that moment. They're not rejecting you for all time, just this particular piece.
It's that moment when our work goes from being our creation to a product to sell that you are no longer your work. Just as our children do when they're grown, the pieces become entities unto themselves. I hope you'll remember this the next time you recieve a rejection. Call them badges of honor. Send them another story and find a new home for the rejected piece. Believe me, the peace of mind is well worth it.