Real time resilience

First, an update following my post from last Friday on Real time rejection:

‘Dear Ann
Many thanks for taking the time to request feedback on your application for the MA Creative Writing (Prose Fiction) which was unsuccessful.
The UEA Creative Writing MA receives a great many applications annually and competition for places is very strong. The admissions tutor has read your work carefully and they do not feel it compares strongly enough with other applicants to merit a place on the MA at this time. You are welcome to re-apply next year, if you would like.’

So that’s that, then.


They never actually say it, do they? No. It’s always ‘not at this time’ or ‘not for us’ or ‘your application/submission was unsuccessful’, often ‘regretfully’. But the sentiment and the result is the same.

Now what?

Well, after the inevitable wallowing period (in this instance, I allowed a maximum of 36 hours) you have a choice.  It’s very simple. You can continue to let it eat you up. Or you can use it for good and let it change you for the better.  I’ve already told you I’m a glass-three-quarters-full kinda gal, so you know what I did, right?

Look, knock-backs and rejection come with the territory when you’re a writer. Which is why resilience needs to be part of our toolkit.  It’s as essential as determination, hard work and nice pens.

Resilience isn’t about not letting the pain in. It’s not about not feeling the feelings that overwhelm you when you’ve basically been told you’re not good enough.  Resilience is about going, ok, I hear you. I get it but I don’t like it. It’s shit. Right now, I want to crawl into the cupboard under the stairs with a giant bag of wotsits, the entire back catalogue of Will and Grace on my ipad, and I want to stay there until my clothes biodegrade off my body (and that’s ok, for about a day).  But tomorrow I’m getting up, sitting at my desk and I’m going to write.

And you do. You get up. You do what you did before the Big No, and you do it better.  And you get ready to do it all again.

That’s resilience.

Now go get ’em.  Here’s a bit of buddhist wisdom to help you on your way:

“Let the hard things in life break you. Let them affect you. Let them change you. Let these hard moments inform you. Let this pain be your teacher.”
Pema Chödrön, Tibetan buddhist and author

8 thoughts on “Real time resilience”

  1. I was rejected by two major creative writing courses some years ago, and it feels HORRIBLE. Thank you for your honesty, I completely get it. In both cases, I found excuses about the timing of my applications, but the fact is, having been academically successful in my distant youth, I was shocked to the core. I am a professional copywriter, and people were always telling me I’d be fab at writing fiction, but evidently I wasn’t. My writing was simply not good enough. Jump forward some years: partly by taking a more critical approach to what I read, and partly through attending a local creative writing group, I worked hard to improve that writing. I found the strength to write a novel, and after a lot more rejection, got taken on by an agent. Yet more rejection and crushing disappointment: she couldn’t sell the book! Am now I’m trying to write novel #2 and it’s far harder. But I just want to say, keep on keeping on. It seems that’s what we writers have to do.

    • Thanks Eleanor, I hear this so much from writers. GOOD writers. There’s a lot of talent out there and we can help each other by sharing our stories and being supportive. A friend of mine is in exactly the same situation you’re in now. You’re absolutely right and we tell each other this all the time – persistence is key. Good luck with book 2, keep going! Ax


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