The Value of Sadness … to the Point of Change

I’m late getting the blog post up today, but as it turns out, that’s a good thing. It gave me time to read a brilliant blog post (I’m a Reject, You’re a Reject, and Why This is Okay) by friend and fellow debut author Kerry Schafer.

I’ll pause while you go read it.

Back? Ok.

Kerry makes some critically important points about the ongoing nature of rejection, and the fact that authors (and all creative people, regardless of genre) must learn to live with rejection or be crushed by a world that LOVES THE TASTE OF YOUR DELICIOUS DREAMS. (MMMMM….sweet unicorns and rainbows….)

I won’t restate her points because (a) she said them better already and (b) I’d like to take a tangential riff on the theme.

A riff on sadness.

Rejection hurts. It makes us sad, and sadness is unenjoyable. Sadness sucks. It makes us feel worthless, untalented, and wasted. And that’s true whether it’s the first rejection or the ten-thousand-and-first.

So what can we do about it?

We can choose to use that sorrow to fuel change. Sadness for its own sake is destructive – a pile of dirt on the cheesecake of our existence. But sadness that doesn’t go anywhere is also a waste of energy. It saps our strength. It leads to depression, misery, and sometimes even quitting the things we love.

That’s one choice, but it’s not the only one.

Sadness can also act as fuel, the gasoline that runs the combustion engine of an artist’s creativity. Rejection doesn’t mean “I suck.” It means “I need to get better.” It offers an opportunity to improve my craft to the point where “no” becomes “yes.”

It isn’t easy to see that when you’re gasping from the gut-punch of rejection, but your brain can remember more than your eyes can see. Make the choice. Make it now. When rejection comes – and it will, regardless of the state of your talent, your life, or your career – don’t just be sad and mope in the corner.

Get back on that unicorn. Be sad … but only to the point that it fuels hope, and work, and skill.


That, my friends, is the value of sadness. It brings us to the point of genuine change.