So a few weeks ago I submitted a proposal to an agent. As part of my Do year, I’d been working on this and I felt like it was pretty solid.
It was turned down.
The agent was very complimentary. She gave me positive feedback on my writing voice. She made some suggestions regarding platform and marketing. But ultimately she said that she was going to pass on this project. There were a couple of reasons, but the one that stuck with me is that she said that my proposal was “too soft.”
In my desire to have something that I thought might be approved by the masses, I wrote something that wasn’t good. The pieces were fine, but when it came down to it, I chickened out. Instead of writing the way I write, I opted for safety. Instead of writing in specifics about things that matter to me, I couched things in more socially acceptable terms. I sought approval, and I got rejection.
This is an easy trap to fall into.
We buy the right clothes. We say the right things. We follow the right traditions. We hang out with the cool kids.
In trying to gain approval, we can lose bits of ourselves. We make this small compromise. We tell that small lie. We keep our mouths closed about injustice. We close our eyes to inequality.
We do all of the things that we hope will gain approval. But if we’re not giving our honest selves, even if we succeed, that success isn’t for us. Instead, it’s for someone who doesn’t really exist.
I’m back to the drawing board with the proposal. I’m tearing apart something that I liked and shaping it into something that I love. I’m giving up on trying to appeal to the masses and focusing on simply writing out my story in a more raw and honest way.
No matter how that turns out, at least that’s something that has my approval.
Have you sought approval and received rejection? What do you do to stop worrying about approval and start accepting your own story?