I am in a rejection business on two sides. On the one hand I have been trying to secure some paid speaking engagements. And the other is trying to get a book published.
From the speaking angle, I’m often “not right for their event,” “time isn’t good,” “not a good fit,” and “I think it’s fine to talk about all this. Just not around my audience,” and my favorite, “can you make your story more positive?” If I played some of these scenes back on video, they’d see it in themselves. They would cringe and say, “What was I thinking?” While I never leave an audience without hope, my story is my story. I wish I could rewrite it but I can’t redo yesterday for the sake of making the event brochure more enticing.
The truth is all these excuses are from people who are just too scared to bring in a bold topic in favor of the standard-issue sure thing. Authenticity is fine as long as the topic doesn’t have anything to do with death.
The truth is there is never a right time to introduce the topics I speak about which is why any time is the right time. It always makes people uncomfortable and often makes them want to make an excuse and a hasty exit. I’ve had to get used to that and forge ahead gently, leaving room for people to recover and save face. When I get a win, it’s a rare gem among a vat of rejections so far and wide, lighting them on fire would kill everyone of smoke inhalation within five states.
Then there’s the book.
To an agent who is getting queries from un-famous authors writing memoirs like me, they see a typical, “I’ve come back to life after my ____________ and found joy again.” Insert devastating life event in the blank.
Despite the fact I don’t position it that way but instead highlight what is different about my book which is Charles’ music lyrics that reflect the story I’m telling, that’s not how they see it. And then there are agents who have not even opened my email. I can’t get upset that no one’s reading the email, right?
Throw in a year’s worth of speech and swallow therapy in the mix due to the post radiation issues for this brain tumor, it feels like I should just throw up my surrender flag and say, “You win,” or some other really bitter comment that temporarily makes me feel good when I yell it at my windshield.
I’m used to it. Really I am. And most the time, it rolls right off me and I’m right on to the next thing. But sometimes when there is a cluster of rejections all at once, say twenty or more in a week’s time, it starts to feel like I’m forging a path through sludge and pushing an iceberg at the same time.
Some days the climb is so daunting and full of land mines I wonder why the hell I do this to myself. It’s those days I want to reach out and touch my child’s face or stroke that curly hair and the image just vaporizes and the reality of his end spills over my eyelids and down my cheeks.
The book will get published. I will get more paid gigs because I believe I will and will put in the effort to get there. I won’t give up.
Even now, I’m allowing myself a moment of wallowing before I launch into repair mode because I need to get spitting mad at humanity and cuss it out for not being fair. I will launch into my alter ego mode eventually and talk my way out of this and back on the horse that has kicked me in the face ninety nine times.
I’m either that tough or that stupid.
I ask myself, “Why the hell did I give up everything to do this?”
There’s you guys. This unexpected group of people who have helped me find and work through this healing process, picked me up when I feel run over and dusted me off and put fresh energizer batteries back into my motivation.
Then there are the people who find this site from google in their worst moment and it says, “I saw Charles’ video, Letter to God and it saved my life last night.”
That’s when I realize why I do it. People who think they are worthless say that one thing that fills my heart with gratefulness.
Thanks for letting me vent. 🙂
And the book did get published after all.