Pushing Past Rejection


In my last post, Bags of Gratitude, I mentioned two big takeaways I got from a talk I heard from motivational speaker Kevin Touhey, but I only wrote about one.

The second one is something I’ve wrestled with on and off for a long time–pushing past rejection.

As part of his talk, Kevin shared his experience of writing a memoir/motivational how-to book and trying to get it published. He sent his book out to fifty-two publishers and they all rejected him.

Fifty-two. 5-2.

And then he published it himself.

It got to 2nd place on the Amazon best-seller list, and now he has a publisher for his 2nd edition.

As I listened to his story, I thought, hmmm, when would I have quit? When would I have thought that I needed to read the writing on the wall and understand that what I had written was no good? Twenty rejections? Eleven rejections? Thirty-one?

All my life I have been so moved by stories of people ignoring rejection or prevailing wisdom about what’s “good” or “worthy” and what isn’t, and turning their dreams into success.

I’ve marveled at their emotional fortitude and lack of self-doubt. Their unwavering belief in what’s they’ve created above and beyond what anyone else thinks about it.


I asked Kevin how he balanced trying to make changes based on criticism he received and plowing forward with his vision that his book was indeed worth publishing the way it was.

He admitted that some of the criticism really hurt and he did take some of it to heart, but because he knew why he’d written it, it was the why that sustained him and drove him forward.


Could I think that something I made was so important that I must share it with the world when lots of experts were quite happy to tell me, no it isn’t?

Perceiving the “going forward in the face of rejection” as an insistence that something I’ve made is so important has always kind of made me uncomfortable.

But then I realized it isn’t so much about insisting that something you’ve made is important, it’s more about simply believing that it’s valid. As valid as anything else. You can make something and simply try hard to share it because you want to.

And when someone doesn’t like something, (or 52 someones in Kevin’s case) why should you or I or Kevin Touhey ever believe someone else’s opinion of something we’ve made MORE than our own?

Why should we put our destinies in someone else’s hands like that?

Whatever the reasons for why, in the past, I might have made that mistake, it’s my life right now, and why not see about changing that?

Because I also believe I’m an evolving, growing creature excited by the future and in love with possibility.

Being on Your Own Side

Kevin Touhey wrote a book and wanted it published. He asked 52 publishers to do it and they all said no, so he did it himself and created an Amazon best-seller. And then a publisher asked him.

His story another example of being on your own side. And the more you’re on your own side, the more your creativity can shine. The more you’re on your own side, the more permission you give yourself to do what you need/want/dream of doing.

Why not? This is your life, every minute of it.

Right Now

So I ask you, at what number of rejections do you think you would have thrown in the towel?

Let’s call that “The Past.”

And now I ask you to think about the positive, real reasons why you love to make things and how you feel when you’re creative and engaged.

Do you feel good? Fulfilled? Alive? Most yourself? Write them down. Now put your hand on your heart and repeat those truths to yourself.

Let’s call this “The Long Now.” Real honest truths you can access anytime.

Are You In?

I’ve also decided, in the course of writing this blog post, to write “52″ on a post-it note and stick it above my computer as a reminder to be on my own side when I’m sticking my neck out and doing hard things like writing personal blog posts, creating classes, planning workshops, or designing kits.

To be on my own side when I make my artwork and share it with friends, post it on the internet, or approach a gallery owner about showing it.

How about you? You in?

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  1. ShadyB says:

    Thank you so much for this post – talk about something coming at just the right time!!! I REALLY needed this – Thank You!! I think I will post that sticky-note on my desktop as well….

  2. Sarah says:

    @ShadyB Yay!! Love perfect timing! So glad to hear that it resonated with you. Yay for sticky notes too. I’ve got mine up!

  3. Kate says:

    Really great and uplifting entry. It’s so true that most of us are very quick to put our own destiny in other people’s hands. We barely think of ourselves as “valid” enough to make it on our own.

  4. Max says:

    Inspiring words, was great reading your page.

  5. Paula says:

    Thank you for your inspiration. I know this is one of my biggest problems. Usually I’m my own worst critic but I really need to push past that to believe in myself and give myself a chance. Anyone have any ideas on this? Keeping moving is my greatest challenge.

  6. Lunar Hine says:

    Yep, I’m in :o )

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