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Creativity & Creative Confidence

Committing or Conquering Self-Rejection

Eco-Arts-Awards-FinalistDue to a recent turn of events, I am elated, but have come to a realization about my earlier thinking as well.  

Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin has been selected as a finalist for the Eco Art Awards in the category of "Repurposed Materials in Art and Design." With this selection comes professional acknowledgement, and being one step closer to the prize money. That is all good and wonderful, but what I am also all too aware of is, I almost didn't enter.

Right! I almost committed "self rejection."

Tom ProfileI think that is why Tom Muir's recent comments in his interview on the Jay Whaley Blog Talk Radio especially resonated with me.

Below is a short MP3 portion taken from the recorded podcast. Tom Muir talks about entering shows and the impact of self-rejection. [This is the first time I've tried inserting an MP3. Try a click. It should play. It worked for me. Let me know if you like this feature.] 



Below is an edited text excerpt from the interview:

Jay Whaley:
"You enter a lot of competitions every year don't you.

Tom Muir:
"I do, yes. I usually enter 12 or more competitions most years.

Jay Whaley:
And you encourage your students to do that too.

Tom Muir:
"Yeah, I sure do.

Jay Whaley:
"It seems to me that you are even delighted by your rejections.

Tom Muir:
"Well, I don't know about delighted, but I have a good sense of humor about that. I had two years in my career where I was rejected from every single exhibition I entered. So I do encourage my students to enter. I think it really helps them resolve their works and take their work much more seriously."

"The other thing that we have seen........ students feel that they could never enter something and get accepted, and then when they see the actual show or see the catalog, they say gosh ...I could have gotten into that. Well you could have but you didn't enter. So it is kind of like a self rejection."

"One year I took all my rejection letters and I covered my office door with show that it's not such a bad thing to get rejected. You could enter those same works in another exhibition the next year and maybe win best of show in a much bigger competition."
Repair,dec10,rejectletters 038
My folder of reject letters (above) for just the last few years. I save them for the I.R.S. as documentation of my professional efforts.

In another example of conquring rejection consider this story from Kate DiCamillo, currently National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, a two-year position to promote children's literature through the Library of Congress. 

It took her six years before she published her first book.  She received 450 rejection letters before a publisher finally agreed to publish her work. She kept a notebook of every submission, and rejection. She says, "if there is any message that I can give in that respect, it's persistence and not giving up on your dream."     

So the next time you are considering entering a juried show, "don't self-reject."

If your work fits the requirements;

1. Use the TOP TEN TIPS for Getting Into a Juried Exhibition, Show, Book or Magazine;

2. Enter the show!


FYI Tom Muir will be speaking at the upcoming Professional Development Seminar 2014 titled "Collectors, Collections and You." Don't miss it!