Back when I was in middle school, I had to take a law class. Seriously, it was a requirement because of the program I was in. It was titled something like "Introduction to Law" and was meant as a government-type course with an emphasis on the legal system and how it works. Toward the end of the course, one of the things we had to do was re-enact court cases, the idea being that if we had learned what we were being taught, we would come away from those re-enactments with the same decisions as the courts did.
Here's the summation of the case I want to talk about:
Two men go into a convenience store to rob it. Man #1 has a gun; Man #2 doesn't know Man #1 has the gun. The robbery doesn't quite go as planned, and Man #1 pulls out his gun and shoots the clerk. The clerk dies. Generally speaking, this is first degree murder because the man willfully took the gun into the store; basically, he planned to use it if necessary. The question was whether Man #2 was guilty of the same crime. Remember, he didn't know about the gun.
I'll pause for a moment to give you a chance to consider. Pretend the Jeopardy music is playing. Or something. In fact, here you go:
So... Once we had re-enacted the case, which resulted in a "not guilty" verdict, we were asked to give our own opinions on what the outcome should have been. All of the class said the outcome should have been "not guilty." All of the class but me, that is. First, all of my classmates started giving me a hard time; I was the only one who said the man was guilty so I must be wrong. How could I be the only one with the correct answer, as it were? Then, my teacher started pressuring me: "Are you sure you don't want to change your mind?" And here was the hard part; she had everyone that believed "guilty" stand on one side of the room (that would be me) and everyone that believed "not guilty" go stand on the other (that would be the 35 or so other students in the class). I'm not sure I can adequately relate what it's like to be in that circumstance. To be the only one standing up for something against a wall of your peers telling you that you're wrong.
But here's the thing:
Their decision was based on what they felt was fair. Basically, it wouldn't be fair for the man to be found "guilty" since he hadn't known about the gun. They were having an emotional response to the situation.
My decision was based on this law that said, in short, that the man was guilty of the same crime as Man #1, whether he knew about the gun or not, because he had participated in the crime.
As it turned out, Man #2 had been found guilty just as Man #1 had been because of the law. I was the only one in the room that had looked at the facts and made an objective decision based on those facts. And, as it turned out, my teacher had pressured me because, as she said, that's sometimes what happens on juries, especially if deliberations have been going on a long time and the jurors just want everything to be over. Basically, she wanted to see if I would cave under the pressure (and she allowed it to be a lot of pressure, almost two full class periods).
But I stood my ground, because I had actual facts sitting in front of me, so to speak. And that's not the only time I've been in that position in my life. By a lot. But that is one of the best examples of having to stand on your own against everyone else that I have ever experienced or seen. Man, I hated middle school.
So what am I saying here? That you should always just demand that you are right no matter how many people stand up against you and tell you that you're wrong? Well, no. But I am saying that you shouldn't back down just because everyone else is saying that you're wrong. Mostly, I'm saying to look at the facts, the data, all of the information. Make a decision based on those facts, not with your emotions. If you've made the best decision you can based on the information at hand (not how you feel about that information), you shouldn't change your mind just because everyone else says you should. Especially if they are appealing to you on an emotional level (and let me tell you, appealing on the basis of what is "fair" is about as emotional as you can get: "fairness" is rarely objective). Now, if someone comes to you with actual fact, data, whatever, you should certainly look at it, evaluate it, and, maybe, revise your thinking. But just remember: Being the only one on a side, does not make you wrong.
Having said all of that, for you writers out there, this is the same way you need to approach your manuscripts. The hardest part of that is to remove as much of your own emotion as you can so that you can evaluate your work as objectively as possible, then put your emotion back in and ask yourself the question, "Do I like this? Is it something I would want to read if someone else wrote it?" If you can say yes to those questions, it doesn't really matter what anyone else says about your work. And, if you can say yes to those questions, it can give you the strength to stand alone through the rejections and the pressure to change.