It's no secret that a writer's life is full of rejection. Tons of it. But this isn't a post about how one should best deal with that. Anyone who has been writing for a while full well knows the process: A touch of disbelief, shake your fists at the world, roll through the bouts of self pity, and engage in a little destructive behavior before time eventually takes over and heals the wound.
No, this is a post for girlfriends or boyfriends of writers. Husbands and wives of writers. Loved ones of writers. Good friends of writers. I'm sure you've all had to deal with a rejected writer's sourpuss, woe-is-me routine where they equate their life to smeared dog shit on the bottom of a shoe because their work isn't being recognized. It's annoying, right? It ruins your night. But you care about them and want to help, because you're a good person! And when they come to you looking for comfort, you generally say something like:
"I'm so sorry. It's gonna happen though, the next one. You have to stay positive."
I bet they get pissed after that, right? And you don't understand why they are lashing out at you because you just want to help. Well, I'm here to tell you how to best handle this situation, and how to make the writer's self-wallowing quickly disappear.
We know you mean well, we know you're supportive, but saying the above will only make the rant worse and more annoying. Trust me. First off, don't say you're "sorry," you had nothing to do with it. This feels patronizing. Secondly, you don't have insider knowledge about the future, so don't throw out random guesses about success. And thirdly, please never say "stay positive." No one ever wants to hear that after their dreams have been dashed. This also goes for "it's a tough business you picked." We know. Now is not that time. Save that for the random times we're actually in a good mood. Is this unfair to you? Of course!
Anyway, this is what you say to a writer who has just told you about an especially difficult rejection:
"What?? That's fuckin' GAY!"
Whoa whoa whoa. I know what you're thinking: Brett, how can you suggest such an insensitive comment! Shame on you! You're horrible! And that's the whole point. You should say something so out of character, so outrageous to show how distraught you are over the rejector's egregious error that you're willing to offend an entire group of people to prove your exasperation. Don't worry, this is all in private. We know you don't mean it. But the more shocking the statement, the better. If you really don't feel comfortable with the offensive slur, then say "that's fuckin buuuuuuuuullllshit!" That will probably work. If you feel uneasy cursing, well, then don't be friends with a writer.
Now, after the writer is pleasantly stunned by your initial reaction, follow that up with...
"Dude (always start with Dude to show you're serious), I don't know anything about anything (show humility and that you have inferior knowledge, trust me), but that.shit.is.good (jam your finger in the table with each word). (then point to some random space to signify the people rejecting the work and dismissively say...) "Fuck them."
Boom. The writer will have no idea how to take that statement apart. He/she will nod, agree with you, and feel better about the whole situation.
And, most importantly, it will save you the grief of having to deal with his/her bullshit for hours and hours.
You can thank me later!