Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Archive for July 2009

REJECTION

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I now feel that I can honestly call myself a writer in every sense of the word.

Not because I’ve been lucky enough to have four of my stories published*…even though that does, in a small way, go towards verifying the vocation. No, I have earned the right to say that I am a writer simply because I have been awarded the badge of honour that defines struggling writers everywhere…THE REJECTION LETTER.

My very first arrived the old-fashioned way, by mail. Oh, I’ve had stories rejected before. Silent rejection from editors who simply don’t respond to your submissions. Then there is rejection by email. I mean, really, who wants to paste their walls with printouts. That’s hardly the romantic kind of rejection you see in movies.

Give me Rejection Slips in envelopes that I can tear open in eager anticipation. Give me a short, terse form letter with a hollow last paragraph of pseudo-encouragement so I can crumple it angrily into a ball and send it in a high arc across the room into the waste paper basket without bouncing it off the rim. Swish!

This first-ever, official Rejection Letter congratulated me on being 1 of 110 out of 960 writers that made it to the second round in the competition and no further.

The letter even contained constructive comments on my piece:

  • “Story lacks tension and drama…”
  • “A lovely story that brings out the kid in the reader…”
  • “Not enough of a story.”
  • “Dialogue used effectively…”
  • “Entertaining, if unrealistic dialogue of a child outwitting adults…”
  • “Excellent attempt at all-dialogue essay…”

There you go. Proof that everyone, editors especially, have different opinions on the same thing.

One lesson I’ve learned over the 40+ years I spent in Advertising Agencies as a Copywriter and eventually Creative Director, is that if you believe yourself creative, Rejection comes with the territory. I faced it daily while trying to sell my work to colleagues and clients alike. It didn’t take me long to grow thicker skin. I quickly learned how to dance between the raindrops, how to pitch my stuff to get my ideas accepted and produced. Walking out of a meeting with a sale was an unforgettable high.

Now, as a writer-with-nothing-to-lose, I’m not sure how I feel about rejection. Yes, someone has, at least, taken the time to read my stuff, but I wasn’t there to sell it, defend it, rationalize it. My piece was like a lost or abandoned child alone in the big, cruel world with no one to protect it.

And that teaches me one valuable lesson…one’s writing has to sell itself. So it better be good.

*See ARCHIVES, NOVEMBER 2008 – “My First Time.”

AND – BY THE WAY – IF ANYONE IS INTERESTED IN READING MY REJECTED STORY (it is very short) JUST LEAVE A NOTE IN “COMMENTS”  AND I’LL SEND IT TO YOU.

THANKS FOR THE INTEREST.