Writing Info

Wallpapering a Room with Rejection Letters

You don’t know how many new writers say they are “wallpapering a room with rejection letters.”  A non-fiction writer I know said she and her writing partner got so many rejections that when they finally got their big break, they actually re-read the binder full of rejection letters…reread them just to feel the gravity of how mighty their acceptance moment really was.  And here’s an example….Carl Sandburg, the poet, was so forlorn by all the rejections he received, that he vowed not to write again.  However, unbeknownst to him, his wife kept on submitting his poems…and finally they were accepted in one tiny magazine.  And then the man went on to win MULTIPLE Pulitzers Prize for his writing!  (Makes you think that maybe your significant other should be sending in your query submissions for you, doesn’t it?)  :)

So what’s wrong with rejection letters anyway?  We all know that they’re part of the journey we go through as writers.  I can’t think of any writers (except for maybe Stephanie Meyer who only wrote to…I think…7 agents before finding representation) who haven’t received a stack of rejections.  So why do we all hate them so much if we already know they’re part of the publishing process?

Because they SUCK!  Yep!  Rejection Letters Suck!  They make us feel like what we’re writing isn’t valuable enough, and often they make us want to stop writing.  Even when the form letter says something like, “I hope you find representation elsewhere…this is a subjective process…I’m sure someone else will like your work…keep writing” we initially want to do exactly the opposite in a silent uproar of frustration.

So in the face of all this rejection how do we get up enough nerve and tenacity to keep going?  Why do we do it to ourselves?

I think it’s because deep down, writing is a part of us.  We can’t give it up.  And we want to discuss our writing with readers.  We want to see it out there for others to read.  So even though we get rejection after rejection letter, the thought that…”maybe the next query I write will lead to being published” is always in the back of our minds.  This is called hope.

Do we all expect to be bestselling authors?  We hope…but no, we don’t expect.  Most of us would be happy just getting published and seeing our books at a local shop.  Right?  Heaven help me the day I first see one of my books on a shelf somewhere.  The storekeeper is going to have to hold me back from whooping and hollering so loud that I scare customers away!

All of us writers need the encouragement to keep churning out the words.  Any inspiring stories out there that you can share?  I’d love to hear about people who’ve made it even after receiving multiple rejections.  Hey, we all need a little “hope story” to keep us going!  :)

1 Comment on Wallpapering a Room with Rejection Letters

  • jason says:
    October 10, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    This is a well written hope story. Have you considered submitting this to a trade journal or op/ed? I’m guessing this would connect with many yet to be found writers out there…


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