Roz Chast spoke at Bedford Middle School in Westport last night describing her arrival there after going the wrong way on Long Lost Road, as she hilariously renamed Long Lots Road.
My friend Cookie and I attended together as we are both fans and slight acquaintances of Roz’s. Cookie (aka Marisabina Russo) and Roz found each other in the waiting room at the New Yorker magazine offices many years ago. Roz once came to my house for an egg decorating lesson. She has completely mastered the skill (witness her exhibit at the Westport Arts Center currently), and I’m tickled to know she loves pysanky as much as I.
She gave an illustrated talk of her cartoons and held a book signing afterwards. At the end of her slide presentation (sorry for the darkened image), she accepted questions from the audience. Her response to the question, “Is it hard to get rejected?” was something familiar and assuring. Roz described how she would send several cartoons a week to the New Yorker along with her colleagues who were also competing for selection. She estimated that the cartoon editor must have received upwards of 400 cartoon submissions a week and maybe selected 20. She knew she would get rejected. “It’s just what I do,” she said. “Rejection is part of the process.”
I loved how matter-of-fact her answer was. Yes, there’s the rejection. Next question.
Rejection is a way of life for almost everyone in a creative business. I think the UPS guy feels worse than I do when a package comes back from a toy company!! My advice is: in your interaction with potential clients, act as if rejection is not in your vocabulary; in your own head, once you have sent an item to a company for evaluation, assume any potential sale will not happen and set your sights on the next idea.
That’s very much along the lines of the small quote I have over my computer, “Next!”