I have a file in my filing cabinet drawer in my home office titled REJECTION LETTERS.
It’s stuffed. However, I am sad to say that I spent years and years and years throwing out rejection letters written to me by agents who did not want to represent me, publishers who did not want to publish me, and editors who did not want to edit me, publish me or even speak to me. Boy, do I wish I would have kept them. Wish I wouldda kept them all. Instead, I didn’t really start keeping track of all the rejections until well after I began to understand that being a professional writer meant you were going to get rejected. Probably for the rest of my career.
Learning to live with the disappointment, sorrow, angst, anger, bitterness and hurt was just a part of the job. Like baseball, there’s no shame in striking out. Even Hall of Famers do it a few times a week.
That’s why I was ticked to read this. It’s an article on how…
- George Orwell’s Animal Farm was rejected under the premise that “it’s impossible to sell animal stories in the United States.”
- Lord of the Flies was called “an absurd an uninteresting fantasy”
- The Fountainhead was called “unsaleable and unpublishable”
And on and on and on.
Football coaches teach that there is no shame in getting knocked down… so get back up and go make a play.
Basketball coaches talk about how there is no need to pout when your opponent scores on you (that’s what they are trying to do, after all) so take the ball out of bounds and keep playing the game.
But writers often seem to think that rejection is a wall instead of an inevitable speed bump. If Ayn Rand, Gertrude Stein, Hemmingway and Orwell can get rejected, so can I… and so can you.
Feel the sting, let it become more coal for your inner furnace and KEEP ON GOING!
(BTW, I think this is a rule for all professions, one we simply do not often enough teach to our young people today.)