I have a feeling I’ve written about this before, but going through the blog posts has resulted in a whole load of nothing so bear with me here.
Today I woke up to a rejection email. I’d sent in a pitch for a story I was pretty excited about, for an anthology about monstrous women, and I didn’t get in. This in itself is not a big deal, there were over 200 pitches for a book that would fit maybe 30 and some just won’t be accepted no matter how solid their story is. It’s normal, no big deal, and yet this time it actually kind of hit me where it hurts.
This is silly, I know this. There was nothing wrong with my story and although there was a line in the submissions page about how “if there’s anything icky on your social media we will not accept you”, I don’t tweet about icky stuff. I talk comics and retweet politics and Kickstarters for projects me and/or my friends are part of and if someone thinks that’s icky it’s probably not something I want to be part of anyway.
Still, some days you can’t shake the doubt that you’re not very good at what you do, or that you’re a worse person than you perceive yourself to be. We’re all a bit racist, I don’t deny that, but most of the time I try to be mindful about that fact, to the best of my abilities. It doesn’t always work out but I’m learning and continuing to try and that’s honestly all we can do — I expect the same of my other fellow humans, so why the need to do it perfectly immediately? Ridiculous.
Anyway. Rejections. They’re a natural part of this business and something you have to learn to shrug off and learn from without taking it personally. Last spring I got into a bunch of projects while writing a nearly 30 page essay for history class and this spring I’ve gotten into one out of three, along with a few other rejections for projects where I was considered as an artist but didn’t make the cut. It’s frustrating but also I think things go in waves. Last spring, the submissions I sent in allowed for concept art and longer summaries of the story, this year it’s been only summaries with a maximum length cut-off. It’s harder to convey a visual story when you only get two paragraphs and yes, elevator pitches and all that but if there’s not a visual element involved in a visual medium it immediately becomes so much more difficult.
I don’t know why I’m bummed about this, to be honest. I have a good steady gig drawing porn that I love and that pays better with the possibility of pitching new stuff on a near constant basis because I’m in, I’m part of the team and as long as I produce good work I’ll remain there. I have an in for another site that publishes erotic comics, so technically I could double dip in this porny pool and make a pretty okay living for myself. Not to mention, I’ve wanted more time to work on my own webcomics for… well, years now. This is an opportunity to do just that, to expand and learn and make more stuff.
Rejections are tough, but they can also be turned into opportunities to learn or maybe recycle and pitch your story somewhere else or just do it anyway and sell it on itch.io for a buck. Rejections only mean you didn’t make the cut for that specific thing, not that you’re not good at what you do or that you’re banned from comics forever.
Jack Kirby once said “Don’t do comics. Comics will break your heart” , something that resounds so deeply with comic creators that we’re literally wearing it on our sleeves and I do to some degree agree with that. Comics will break your heart, but so will everything else. Your job is to determine if it’s worth it.