Beth Markel

Learning from disappointment…

Posted on October 23, 2014 by Beth Markel

I’m so happy for everybody who made it into Quilt National, as well as all of the other shows going on.  This is a great time to be involved in quilting, textile art, surface design, fabric creations, and art.  There is innovation in techniques and dyes, a dedicated resurgence of old methods (especially beautiful batiks), as well as indigo in our backyards.  All of this is fantastic, exciting, and challenging.

All of that being said, my dilemma is NOT getting accepted into Quilt National.  When I first received the rejection email, I was disappointed.  Really disappointed.  OK, it was excruciating.  I admit it.  While part of my head said ‘No way I’ll be accepted’…there was part of my heart that HOPED… in vain, as it turns out.

Rather than say to myself, ok, a hurdle, nothing more, I’ve been caught up in two weeks of mild pity-partying.  I’ve cleaned up my sewing room some.  I’ve painted our front entry-way an exquisite plum shade.  I’ve cleaned out the guest closet.  I’ve cut down and mulched our hostas for the winter.  I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate.  I’ve done everything EXCEPT sew.  It’s funny how such a small kernel of hope can be so thoroughly crushed.  Funny and annoying.

Now that it’s been a couple of weeks, I’m ready to start a new project.  I’m still disappointed that I didn’t make it into Quilt National, but now rather than see it as a HUGE disappointment, I’m looking at what I’ve learned from my reaction, and moving on.

Yes, I am genuinely pleased and excited for those accepted!

Yes, I hate letters that contain the phrase ….’We regret to inform you…’

Yes, I will submit work in the future to Quilt National…

Yes, I think the piece I submitted is quite good…

No, I don’t make quilts/textile art to win prizes…

No, I won’t change what I do to please anybody else…

No, I won’t keep avoiding my sewing machine…

We always taught our kids that, ‘You learn more from your failures than you do from success.’  I just thought it was a lesson I’d learned many decades ago and was past being so disappointed.  Go figure.

Hanging in there,




Sharon Buck on October 23, 2014

I too suffered from the rejection blues...QN blues in particular; but to turn things around I have finished 2 quilts, (they were almost done) and made a skirt while also doing the gardening things too! We just have to go on and I am sure your quilt was way cool... I guess it boils down to not everyone liking the same thing and its the same with judges. Ha Ha sounds like mom advice. But I love quilting too and maybe next year we'll be up there on the wall side by side.

Leni Levenson Wiener on October 23, 2014

Beth, don’t make yourself crazy. We all have our depression from rejection stories, but the rejections to not define you as an artist. What one juror rejects, another might have accepted. It's a numbers game, so do your best work, believe in yourself and keep trying. Do what you do because you want to do it. This is all about the process, the journey–the destination is just the cherry on top. Don’t over think it, don’t fret over it, don’t stew in self doubt and depression. Just get back into the studio and make something else.

Sandy on October 23, 2014

Hey, I have LOTS of those letters! I wanted to tell you that years ago one of my compatriots calculated that we have a better chance applying and getting into Harvard than QN. (And I don't want to go to Harvard.) Continue your pity-party as long as you want but it's not productive. Your work is wonderful, start sending it to other important shows right away! And think of your artistic life by your many SUCCESSES, not rejections.

Betty Ford on October 23, 2014

Great post, Beth. I hope these two comments will cheer you. First, I could not possibly have gotten into QN this year because I MISSED the deadline! I had it in my head the deadline was Sept.15. So I sat down at my computer on the 14th to discover the deadline was Sept 12! How's that for stupid!? Secondly, I did get into Visions and went to the opening weekend in San Diego on Oct 11. One day, while sitting around with others who made it into the exhibit everyone (except yours truly) said, "Would you like to see a picture of my QN reject?" I said, "Would you like to see the brain scan I had done after I missed the deadline?"

Marilyn Wall on October 24, 2014

Beth, I so enjoyed reading your comments. I didn't enter this year, but had a rejection last time. It does take your breath away for a while. It's hard to ignore the rejection but, Leni gave some good advice. Keep making your wonderful work.

Heather P on October 24, 2014

Wonderful post, Beth. Rejection is hard to handle, but you can't let it keep you from doing what you do!

Jeanne Marklin on October 24, 2014

Beth, I had the same thought about my piece, and your words reminded me that it is sort of the way I would feel after a big test. "I might have aced it, but maybe not". I am finding it easier to move on since I have had other acceptances and know that there will be more in the future. And the quilts we entered are now available for other exhibits! More to be sent out into the world.

Ruth Powers on October 24, 2014

Another reject here - I feel your pain! I wish you would post a photo of your quilt so we could see it, I'll bet a grouping of the rejects would make a great show!!

Sue B on October 24, 2014

Just what I needed to read! It's easy to tell yourself you know these things are true. Why is it easier to believe these truths when they are articulated and shared by others? Thank you for sharing them!

Tanya Brown on October 28, 2014

QN reminds me a bit of the old Charlie Brown cartoons in which he'd go to kick a football and Lucy would yank it away at the last second. I would love to see a Salon des Refusés of the works which didn't make it in. I'll bet many are quite wonderful.

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