Friday, May 13, 2011

Psych Out

Much ink is spilled (or whatever the online equivalent is these days) on the subject of the rejection letter. I’ve addressed it on this blog and countless other artist bloggers have too. (One of my favorite discussions of the subject is this post by Providence artist Kathy Hodge, and here's another good one on Deanna Wood's blog). Somehow, sharing our experiences can help take the sting out of opening that envelope or clicking on that email and reading the dreaded words, “Dear Artist, We regret to inform you that your work was not chosen …”

These communiqués might as well include a P.S. that says, “Please take a hammer and bash yourself over the head with it. And thank you for your interest in our gallery.”

An even weirder experience is when you realize your work has been rejected, but the rejecter hasn’t even had the common courtesy to let you know. Yesterday I noticed that the notification deadline for a show I’d applied for had passed, so I contacted the gallery. They emailed back and said my rejection notice must have been “caught up in a spam filter.” (It was NOT caught up in a spam filter. They messed up. But apparently their ineptitude didn’t extend to their ability to deposit my $30 application fee.)

So today, I decided to try and turn the pain inside out, so to speak. While I have certainly received my share of rejection letters over the years, I have been fortunate to receive many acceptance letters. (A selection of these glorious documents appears at the beginning of this post.) In order to psych myself up for allowing new acceptances into my experience, I have decided to gather my “Congratulations” and “We are pleased to inform you” letters into a binder in sheet protectors. If I read these acceptances over to myself for a few minutes every day, it will remind me that good fortune has come into my career in the past, and give me faith to believe that it will come again.

I’m not one of those strong individuals who can save their rejection letters, joke about them, or even make art out of them, as many others have. (My preferred method of dealing is a prompt visit to the circular file and then pretending that the whole unpleasant experience never happened. As Mark Twain said, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”) But maybe I can blot out the bad memories by recalling the warm fuzzies that come from acceptance letters!

7 comments:

Martha Marshall said...

Oh, I love it, Catherine! You've articulated the whole experience for many artists, including me. And what a great way to get psyched!

Kathy Hodge said...

Thanks for linking. I think it's very healthy to save your acceptance letters, but for some reason they don't have the same fascination as the rejection letters for me. I'm afraid I've only saved a few, but my rejection pile is about an inch thick. Not to say I don't appreciate the acceptances, they keep me going!

Your work and blog are great, they would get an acceptance letter from me!

Catherine Carter said...

I'll hope it works, Martha, we'll see!

I understand the fascination, Kathy, but I just can't stand the pain! :-( I appreciate your kind words on my work and blog.

Thank you both for reading and commenting. We're all in this together; we win some, we lose some!

Matthew G. Beall said...

Very well said and made me laugh! "They emailed back and said my rejection notice must have been “caught up in a spam filter.” (It was NOT caught up in a spam filter. They messed up. But apparently their ineptitude didn’t extend to their ability to deposit my $30 application fee.)"

The positives and negatives go together, don't they.

Catherine Carter said...

I had to laugh, Matthew, or I would have wanted to kill. I mean, it's one thing to reject someone's work. It's quite another to say, "I think you're so stupid that I know you're going to believe my lame-o excuse ... " That didn't sit well with me! ;-)

Stephanie Hoff Clayton said...

I also feel it's important to save and refer to those acceptance letters.
Not letting the artist know their work has been rejected is just bad business etiquette. So is lying about it: "spam filter", right.

Catherine Carter said...

True, Stephanie, and to make matters worse, it was the gallery at my alma mater! So much for alumni relations! Oh well, I've got my old acceptance letters to keep me warm! ;-) Thank you for your comments, as always.