Friday, July 20, 2007

Rejection

I'm posting a little early today because tonight I'll be reading tarot at our bookstore's Harry Potter party. If you're in the area, stop by the Bookery and let me tell you your (fake) future! I've never done it before, but I'm sure I have a knack for it.

Anyway, I wanted to mention Literary Rejections on Display, an awesome blog. It reminded me why I got into this business in the first place: my love of rejection. I mean, it must be, when you think about how much failure and misery and rejection I've collected over the years. By middle school, at least, I was assiduously reading Writer's Market and collecting addresses and names of editors. My first rejection was from Cricket magazine; almost thirty years later (!!) I can't look at the cover of that mag without a pang of humiliation and regret. My first rejection with writing on it was from Seventeen -- I still have that one.

But mysteriously, perhaps because of all the moving I've done, I can't find a single other rejection note. God knows I've collected plenty. I hope one turns up because I'd like to submit to LRoD. Chances are I threw them all out in a depressive blackout or something.

I've always been vaguely disappointed at how wishy-washy rejection notes are these days. Writers of old always had some stunningly cruel rejection to hang on the wall, but I've never received anything worse than bland dismissal and dishonest good wishes. Editors today are savvy enough to cover their buns -- the writer they reject today has every chance of garnering a million-dollar advance elsewhere, and that writer has a long memory. Or maybe editors are just nicer these days.

There's probably a direct relationship between how sturdy a writer is in the face of rejection and his or her likelihood of overcoming it. I'm not particularly sturdy myself -- I recall many weep-fests alone in my room when I was sending my book around to indifferent agents -- but for some reason I keep popping up to take more blows. I think it's because I feel like I owe something to that incredibly misguided twelve-year-old who read Writer's Market like the Bible. That can't be the world's best reason for writing. Oh, well: you work with what you got.

2 comments:

jrlennon said...

You remind me of Dennis Held, at CutBank when we first moved to Missoula in '93, and his famous lifetime rejection slips. I actually think we issued one ourselves when, a couple years later, we kept getting stories from that guy whose writing was full of sex, but who used baby talk to describe the naughty bits. The straw that broke my back was "his weeweeing weenie." WE REGRET THAT WE HOPE YOU NEVER SEND US ANYTHING AGAIN, EVER.

I have to admit, that felt good, after getting let down so many times, from so many places...

Writer, Rejected said...

I love the rejection letter recounted above. Thanks for the shout out, WardSixers. I hope that everyone starts posting their deepest, darkest rejections, or even their blandest ones. Then we can have a big old collective weep-fest party together, which is probably the only cure to all that damn rejection.