Beginner writer reads her first rejection letter    Publishers take it in their stride, writers take it to heart, and the fortunate few who avoid it can take that straight to the bank. The rejection letter, be it well-crafted or rote, personal or form, within the average response time or well outside, is a missive of heartbreak to most writers.
But I take a different view. As a beginning writer, with a few short stories under my belt, and one completed manuscript for a novel resting expectantly in my top drawer for my editorial attentions come the new year (see QWC courses: Year of the Edit), I view each item in my slim file of rejections as a writer’s badge of honour : “I am rejected, therefore I write”.
Have you received a rejection lately? Do you remember your first time? Three years ago I sat writing at my desk, innocent to the silent assassin slipping into my mailbox. The two standard pars of ‘thanks, but no thanks’ killed my naivite, my laziness, my amateurism. It brought home to me every error in my story that I had subconsciously catalogued since sending it off a few months before: the punctuation error, the unsuitable word choice, the structural flaw. While the form rejection mentioned none of these, they were all I could see as I read, re-read, and re-read the letter…
Steven King in On Writing advises that “optimism is a perfectly legitimate response to failure.” My writing buddies and teachers agree. Now I view each rejection slip, letter, or email as a sign that I am actively learning my craft, each one marking a milestone in my apprenticeship. Now when I tell people I am a writer and then field the inevitable question in response, I look them in the eye and say “No, I’m not published yet – but I’m loving the journey.”

3 Responses to “Rejection and honour”

  1. Charlotte Nash,

    :) Got my first rejection at age 8 or so (grade 3 if I remember right). I wrote a short story variation on cinderella that involved the tooth fairy, rather than a fairy godmother. Found publishers in the yellow pages, sent it off, and lo and behold, a rejection arrived in a couple of months. It did contain some kindly words from the publisher, however, in recognition of my age. Not that I took them to heart at that time. Now, I file it in my “one day, for the Parkinson/Denton/next big thing interview” material :)

  2. Nola W,

    I got my first rejection a few years ago, I felt sad but also excited. It was the first time that somebody else had seen my writing. My work is getting out there.

  3. admin,

    Hey Charlotte – How amazing that you had the honour of being rejected at such a tender age – such a prodigy!

    Hi Nola, I’m so pleased you feel about rejections as I do – that they are signs of achievement. Happy writing.


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