10/18/2016 01:41 pm ET Updated Oct 19, 2017

Is It Time to Give Up?

You've dotted your "i"s and crossed your "t"s. You have a crystal clear brand, image, and message; you know exactly who your target audience is; and you're going after it, with a solid strategy in place. And yet... you find yourself banging your head against a wall. You're getting little or no traction from media, VIPs, or venues you're outreaching. How should you interpret the (non) response? There are a few possibilities:

You may be way (way) ahead of the curve.
Sometimes the world just needs time to catch up with your big fat brain. There may need to be some awakening of consciousness, or some particular event, before people can process what the heck you're yammering about. Case in point: In 1992, I compiled and edited an anthology about women of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish heritage. Nobody wanted it - not the Jewish press, the feminist press, or the people of color press. I could have plastered the walls of my house with the rejection letters I received. Then 9/11 happened, and seven top literary agents were fighting over the book. I ended up publishing it with a company that had rejected it five years prior. Same book, same editor, same publisher, different human consciousness.

You may be aiming too high.
On a related note, the world might be ready for you, but not the mainstream world. Yet. If your work is considered "out there" by typical Americans, you'll have to work harder to get their attention and respect, first building up your track record in the alternative circles and, once you have climbed those ranks, crossing over into the mainstream.

You may need to be relentless.
The biggest article I ever wrote - a cover story for AARP magazine, the largest-circulation magazine in the world, with shy of 50 million readers - took me six months of editor harassment (as I affectionately call it) before getting accepted. Ultimately, it got voted one of the editors' top three picks for health articles that year. The process of getting my pitch reviewed and accepted, however, was incredibly frustrating. Call email call email call email...At any time along the way, I could have given up. BUT if an editor hasn't outright said "no" to my pitch, my mindset is that there's still the possibility that s/he will say "yes." And so many times that has been the case. It takes a combination of persistence and patience to keep on going until you reach that point.

While there may be nothing personal about why you aren't getting the traction you need, you may nonetheless decide to throw in the towel if 1) you are exhausted from the effort, 2) you have run out of resources, and/or 3) you just don't feel like it anymore. Who knows, perhaps the Universe wants you doing different work, or doing the same work in a different way.

In my case, after 20 years as a pioneering Jewish multicultural educator, I threw in the towel. While my work had radically shifted thinking and programming related to Jewish identity, and while it had gotten the attention of mainstream media as varied as Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, and ELLEgirl, the Jewish community was still far from achieving the vision I had for it. I no longer had the stomach for the politics, power games, or bull-headedness, however, so I chose to walk away. Fast forward six years, and my Jewish multicultural work is resurfacing in my music performances and inspirational talks. Who knew.