Guest Blog: Diary of a Rejected Artist

Diary of a Rejected Artist
– {by Sadeqa Johnson}

The rejection of an artist is so plentiful that you must love what you do in order to keep moving forward.  So many times I’ve wanted to quit writing and settle for a job working in the travel department of the Newark Museum (that’s of course if they would hire me).  The problem is that even when I want to ignore my fierce attachment to weaving words on endless white pages, I just can’t.  The words come to me even when I shoo them.  If I stay away too long the pit of my stomach aches, I’m agitated, restless, bored and everything pisses me off.

I’m saying this because today I had my heart shattered yet again.  My first novel, Love in a Carry-on Handbag was so close to a publishing deal, that I was celebrating by shaking what my mama gave me to raspy rap lyrics all over my kitchen floor.  But just as quick as the two-step I was told, “They passed.”  Like seriously?  I’m already dancing and my hair is sweating out.

My closest friend tried cheering me with, “just think when you tell your success story, all of this rejection will make it that much sweeter.”  Terry McMillian was rejected 27 times before getting her deal (and I’m about half way there), but honestly those facts don’t ease the crack in my heart and keep my guts from gushing out.  JK Rowling told Oprah in an interview, “failure is absolutely necessary for success.”  I know she’s right but trust me, if my success was handed to me this morning I would have truly appreciated it.  I’ve been on the path to publishing for over ten years.  Prior and during my penning, I worked as a publicist for Scholastic and had the joy of working on the first three Harry Potter books.  Exciting right?  I know Jo, and have the autographed copies and a picture of us together to prove it.  From there I went over to Penguin Putnam to work in the adult division, and I sware it felt like leaving undergraduate school for grad and law school combined.  It was incredibly hard work but I had wonderful mentors, and as an avid reader tried not be starstruck when I worked with the likes of Bebe Moore Campbell (my angel in the sky), Rebecca Walker, Amy Tan and TD Jakes.  Working in the office was sometimes insane, but when I packed up for the day my novel came to me on the train, mostly in a tattered black and white composition book—just like the one from grade school.

When my first child was born I stayed home, changed diapers, breastfeed through two bouts of mastitis, massaged a breast that wouldn’t drain properly, and lived amidst a house that would not stay clean.  And how I cried.  Tears over not getting enough sleep, over the new skin I was in, the lost of my fancy titles, and being diminished to his mommy (though that name wouldn’t actually stick until preschool).  Fat watery droplets over the novel that I had planned to finish and pitch to agents but had very little time to attend.  But I still grabbed my pen.  My husband calls me the most discipline girl he knows, because I show up everyday for the page.  I’ve shown up through three pregnancy, sleep deprivation, cranky toddlers refusing to nap and hang overs (because what else do mommies do to ease the loneliness of being home all day, but drink wine in the evening hoping it will all go away).

So I’m a writer no matter what the publishers say, and no matter how many times they turn me down.  I have no choice but to keep putting one step in front of the other.  It’s the only way for me to be true to my authentic self, and to stay on the path of discovering who I really am.  It’s why I practice silence and meditation and read every motivational journal I can get my hands on.

June will make 11 years that the sensual love story of Erica Shaw, a high-strung publicist trying climb the corporate ladder and escape a family of number runners and Colt 45 drinkers, and her long distances boyfriend Warren Prince, a sexied-lipped trumpet player who can’t be with her, but can’t stand to be without her have been bouncing through my head.  So I can’t give up.  Sure, it feels like my boyfriend broke up with me on a post-it, but I will live.  At my core I know that this moment is exactly how it is supposed to be, because the entire Universe is as it should be.  Everything is perfect.  There are no accidents, so I’m drying my tears and writing.

Do what you love and do it with gust.  And if you fail, fail greatly.

Love, Light and Laughter!

Sadeqa Johnson is a former publicist and the editor of the motivational blog Meditation and Moments of Musing.  An inner peace advocate, Sadeqa has been teaching the benefits of meditation for three years and is the co-founder of 12th Street Press Publishing.  Her debut novel Love in a Carry-on Handbag will be published in the fall of 2011.  To learn more about Sadeqa Johnson please visit us at or follow her on Twitter: @Sadeqasays

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