“R” is for Rejected/Rejection


Hi, everyone!  This post is part of the A-Z challenge. Please take time to visit the other blogs that are participating.

For a writer, getting a rejection letter is one of the worst things that could happen.  After days, weeks, months, even years of pouring our hearts into a story only to be told to take a hike is a difficult pill to swallow.

Over the years I’ve submitted a variety of material for publication.  In my early years I submitted to magazines a lot.  Most of the time I got the standard form letter…Dear Jenny, thank you for submitting your work to [insert name of agency/magazine, etc.].  Unfortunately, it is not a fit for us at this time.

Okay, no problem.  I’m down with that.  I mean, they didn’t say my writing was bad; just that it wasn’t a fit, right?  Gotta move on.  Keep going.  For almost 2 years I diligently sent off articles, short stories, etc. with no luck.  After a while, the rejections began to take their toll.  Was I really that bad of a writer? Surely someone liked something I wrote.   I changed tactic and started submitting short stories for competitions.  Didn’t win anything.  Then I started looking for homes for some of my short stories, submitting to anthology competitions.  Again, nothing.  Not even one bite.  I decided to take one more chance with a short titled “When Herman Cries”.  It was a children’s story about a goldfish who lost his mother and cried so much, his tears overfilled his fish tank.  It was a story of grief and how kids find solace in the simplest of creatures.  I received the worst rejection I could have ever received.  I’ll never forget it.  Paperclipped to my returned story was a yellow note that simply said in black marker,

There was no salutation, no closing.  Just those four words.

I was devastated.  Two days later, in a heated argument, I tore up my first completed novel, “One Night With You”…a fictional piece about Elvis Presley.  I put my typewriter and pens away.  That was twenty-two years ago.

In 2003, the writing bug returned to me again.  Wait. Let me rephrase.  It didn’t return to me. I returned to it, and oh, how my heart rejoiced.  It was like being reunited with an old and dear friend.  How could I have shunned my soul’s calling for so long?  I began writing again, anything and everything…poems, short stories, flash fiction, novels, novellas, editorials.  You name it.

For the past seven years I’ve done nothing but work on perfecting my own writing as well as those of others.  I’ve read a lot, joined critique groups, landed a few lifelong beta partners.  The internet has been a lifeline for me and other writers, offering outlets that didn’t exist 22 years ago.  Now, my writing is better, crisper, but I know I still have a long way to go.  I still get rejections and they still burn, but I’ve also received requests for partials and a request for an entire manuscript.  And while each rejection stings, they are the yellow bricks that line the road to publication.  I have a belief in myself and my writing now that I didn’t have 22 years ago.  That publishing contract is close, I can smell it, and when it finally happens, I’ll have all the ‘Thanks but no thanks’ I ever received to thank for it.  What a journey it’s been.  What a fantastic journey it’s going to be.

What about you?  What was your worse rejection letter and how did you overcome the sting?

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15 thoughts on ““R” is for Rejected/Rejection

  1. I received two on the same day and although this has happened before, I was near the end of my agent list so that it hit me harder. I felt like I, too, wanted to throw everything away, that it was useless to try. I’m so glad I didn’t. And even though that was only a month back, I’m keeping on. Though it no longer looks possible it’ll be picked up by an agent, there are e-pubs out there. And this new story I’m doing is really a winner according to my cps, so maybe it’ll be, “the one.”

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  2. You are one tough lady! 🙂 Kudos to you for persevering and continuing to follow your passion.

    I’m bracing myself for a slew of rejection letters when I start sending out queries. I’ve been rejected in contests before, but the dreaded letter hasn’t crossed my doorstep yet. It’s coming . . . and I hope I’m as strong as you when it does.

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  3. I recently read another blog on rejection which featured a Barbara Kingsolver quote that I copied to my ‘Sticky Notes’: “This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘To the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address.’ Just keep looking for the right address.” The quote seems to put things in perspective. I received rejections for 10 years before finding ‘the right address’. I’m sure you’ll find yours one day soon. 🙂

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  4. I think some of the worst rejections are those that return “no” response. It’s the silent killer. I’ve overcome a few of those, but I can’t help but scratch my head, being in public relations myself. It doesn’t take much to put together a a couple of blanket response emails and click and send. But that’s just my beef.

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    1. True, but their response is they can’t possibly answer the 10s of thousands submissions they get a year. I guess I can see this, but it still would be nice to get something so you’re not left in limbo, especially when the agents or publishers you submit to don’t allow a multiple submission policy (submitting to others at the same time). No wonder people get tired of the system and decide to self-publish. Thanks for visiting and commenting and hope you come back soon. 🙂

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  5. My worst rejection was from an agent on a full two years ago. She was super blunt and very constructive, but at the time my disappointment read her comments as rude. I’m currently rewriting the MS she rejected, and I keep coming back to her feedback, using it to improve my story. Turns out she was right on after all. (Funnily enough, this same agent ended up offering me rep on a different manuscript last year! We had a wonderful phone chat and she was nothing but lovely. Even though I didn’t end up signing with her, I’m still grateful to her for that first “horrible” rejection.)

    Great idea for an R post, Jenny. So glad you’ve rejoined the writing world!

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  6. I can certainly identify. I’ve had plenty of rejection in my few years of writing, especially of the “not for us” variety. Your phrase “And while each rejection stings, they are the yellow bricks that line the road to publication.” resonated. To that I’d add, the road is not make entirely of yellow bricks but mostly of the garden-variety clay based bricks. There are a few gold ones in there, of course, but if you only made progress with the gold ones you’d never reach your destination. Every brick–whether an acceptance or a rejection–moves you closer. The trick is to consider writing a constant warmup that may never get you to the destination you planned, but at least you’re moving forward and the scenery changes a lot. 🙂

    Worst rejection was either the beta reader who trounced all over my first novel with lovely phrases like, “I’d like to burn this manuscript and stomp on its ashes” or getting soooo close only to be cut at the 12th hour for a contest. I had another one where the sender bemoaned how busy she was and that someone else usually sends out the notices and offers feedback but blah, blah, excuse, excuse that was all about her. Yeah, I was REAL sympathetic. LOL

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  7. Sometimes the worst rejections are of the “so close, yet so far” variety, when someone requests a full, raves about it, yet makes some sort of excuse not to invest in it: they’ve already got similar stories; they love it, but don’t LOVE it; they don’t think they can market it in the current climate, blah-blah…

    Another stinker is the one where they just never bother to reply, even when probed. I got a couple of those.

    Great post. I’m sure all writers can identify with this!

    J.C. Martin
    A to Z Blogger

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