Monday, 8 September 2008

Rejection is Not a Dirty Word

I am returning this otherwise good typing paper to you because someone has printed gibberish all over it and put your name at the top. ~English Professor (Name Unknown), Ohio University
Well, at least it wasn't that bad.
My rejection that is.
I finally received word from M&B London about my brilliant but clearly misunderstood ms :). The news was not good in that they did pass on this particular story. However, they were very positive about many aspects of it, including my voice and style, and invited me to submit something else. This is a big deal in the land of the rejection slip - it means that they are not rejecting you as a writer but only the particular story you sent them. This is a very important distinction.
It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous. ~Robert Benchley

I have been ruminating for the past week on whether or not to talk about my rejection(s) on the blog. I know many writers don't, especially once they've been published. It is a little embarrassing you see, admitting your failures in public. But then I decided to look at it another way.

Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes - Oscar Wilde

A failure is not something to be lamented, because it is a sign that you have TRIED.

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work - Thomas Alva Edison

In the writing game in particular, rejection is part of the business. Particularly if you are the type of writer who needs to push themselves by trying something different at regular intervals. Unfortunate or not, that's me. Who else would go from writing a hot romance, to an erotic short story, to a tender no sex involved category for a major publisher, to a very naughty menage a trois novella in the space of 18 months? I must be mad. Certainly my writing career would probably be travelling a more steady and sure path if I could stick to writing the same kind of thing. But like it or not, this is me.

So if you too have received a rejection recently, take heart. Well, eat your quota of post rejection chocolate and then take heart. We all go through it and it's an important part of the process. JK Rowling had the first Harry Potter book rejected by 15 different publishers before one picked it up. Olivia Goldsmith's book The First Wives Club was rejected 26 times before it was finally accepted and it went on to become a major Hollywood movie. The first of Elmore Leonard's crime novels, The Big Bounce, was rejected a whopping 84 times before being sold as a movie and a paperback original. The mind boggles at 84 rejections for the same book. Now that's determination.

So do you have your own rejection story? If so, join the club - it's incredibly easy to get in. All you have to do is write a book :)

A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. ~Thomas Mann, Essays of Three Decades, 1947



  1. Hey Sami

    Thanks for sharing. I think you are absolutely 100% right... rejection is not failure at all, especially the kind of rejection you just received.

    I got a similar rejection from M&B just over a month ago and it actually gave my writing a boost that had been absent for a while. I'd been getting really depressed about whether I could ever actually make it but their affirmation that they liked my 'voice' really helped! Let's face it... in this business VOICE is as big as the music industry! At least that's my take and I'm sticking to it :)

  2. You're so right Rach. You can't be sure you even have a voice until somebody says they like it!

  3. Hey Sami, great to see you out and about again. I agree with you. I like to think of a rejection as trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, it doesn't fit. But if you take that square peg a try and put it in a square hole.....
    Hope you and bub are doing well. Oh, and we mustn't forget the other little princess.