I recently spent some quality time with a friend who’s a new writer. She’d gotten her first rejection letter from a publisher and as hard as it is to put on a brave face, rejection hurts. Frustration sets in, a sense of unworthiness. Perhaps I’m not as good as I thought reels through our minds. All the roots of “failure” sink into fertile grounds of our minds.
“Maybe I just need to skip the writing part and just be a speaker.” She said.
“Uh, no! This is a stepping stone, so step.”
Rejection, whether it be as a writer or any other place marker in our lives, stills stings. I’ve had my share and it will turn our lives and our hearts inside out. I could hear the sense of loss in my friend’s voice, her disappointment and there was nothing I could do to fix it.
“Wait a minute.” I said. “You don’t stop working to improve. You don’t give up just because one company said no.” And you don’t. Instead, let the words of rejection be the fuel to success. Let those words be what spurs you ahead to make the necessary changes, improve and be better.
I heard my friend sigh. “Oh okay.” That’s when I made the comparison of our work to that of making pickles.
As a child, I’ve stood over the kitchen counter slicing cucumbers. I’ve poked pint jars full of small rounded dics or long slices of juicey cucumbers then anticipated the sweet taste to come. Pickles aren’t pickles over night. It’s a long process, just as life it a long process. There are steps to making nice, crunchy pickles and learning to hone the task then wait for the result takes time. If by chance, we miss a step or fudge (which by the way is something else that is a process), then our pickles fail.
I’ve watched my mother throw out cans of pickles because they spoiled instead of pickled. She would grow frustrated and wonder if she’d lost her skill – then out would come the recipe where she’d pour over each step, locating what she did wrong. The process, to be successful, required backtracking and evaluation, then improvement and determination. So when the next batch was made. . .when the brine was poured over the cucumbers and the lids sealed and placed on a shelf “to make,” we were ready for success. And how sweet the taste of success is when the pickles are right.
I take off my hat to Forrest Gump and his famous phrase, “Life is like a box of chocolates,” then I add my own rendition. Life is like making pickles. It sometimes requires a do over. It takes practice and honing. And when we pop the seal on the jar and pull out a nice crunchy pickle, it’s a moment to savor.
When rejection or failed attempts plague you, pull out the recipe and hone the work. The next batch may be the perfect pickle.
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