As someone who didn’t go on a date until she was eighteen, I’m pretty familiar with rejection. (Is a trip to the dining hall a date? What about hanging out in someone else’s dorm room? Based on some people’s “date” parameters, it is entirely possible that I’ve still never been on an actual date.)
With my first three MFA rejections all piling up within a week of each other (two on the same morning!) I would say that rejection has been on my mind.
Pretty much the first thing they teach about being a writer is that you have to get used to rejection. I’m talking the first day of class. Before you even need to know how to write an interesting sentence, you need to know that rejection is looming on the horizon.
The first real-life writer I met told me that he used to decorate his bathroom with rejections, that he’d decoupage them to the walls like wallpaper. “We regret to inform you…” and “Unfortunately…” and “We’re very sorry to say…” staring at him every time he undressed to get into the shower. (I’m of the opinion that facing rejection while naked is the worst way to face rejection, but whatever works for you.)
I’ve known people who set their rejections on fire, who move them quickly to the “Shame” folder in their gmail, who have ripped them into sad confetti.
Another writer told me he used to try to turn the table on rejection. Every year, he’d set one goal for himself. His goal wasn’t to get published. It wasn’t to read more, or write more, or lose weight. His goal was to get one hundred rejection letters that year. So instead of feeling that usual stomach-dropping dread of getting rejected, he’d be a little closer to his goal. (This man was, of course, a genius.)
I would suggest re-reading the rejection letter until you have it memorized, or ordering a large pizza with breadsticks, or just sitting in the bathroom for your entire lunch break, staring at the lock on the stall, thinking about all of the other jobs you could have had if you’d payed a little more attention in science class, or majored in business, or known what networking meant. (Not really. Don’t do these things. I am the worst at advice.)
I guess the point is, that even if you think you are ready for rejection, it has a way of punching you in the exact spot you can’t block. If you can help it, try not to think of a rejection as a rejection. Turn off the logic part of your brain and think of each rejection as your validation as a writer, because there’s nothing writers love more than a good rejection story.