Rejections: A Good Lesson

I read with interest that you’re running a piece on rejection. Being an expert on the subject myself, I was extremely excited by that news, and am sending you limited excerpts from my own archive of smashed dreams.

The best, and least painful thing to do, is to wait for the right opportunities to come along.
waiting for a friend
Photo Credit: waferboard via flickr


I’m a writer from the UK. Several years ago I was touting around my first attempt at a novel, a work which I now realize is far more suited to a home in my desk drawer than on bookstore shelves. I went through a fairly dispiriting process of sending the opening chapters out to agents, resulting in the two form rejection letters I am now sending to you. (I should say that these are not the only rejections I received for this work.) The first, handwritten upon by the agent, reads:
I’m sorry but I just couldn’t see a must-read quality in this. Good luck elsewhere.
The second, which came enclosed with several fliers for a “How to write” course, is one of the most savage form rejections I’ve ever seen – recounting, as it does, that
the overwhelming majority of submissions are so hopelessly bad that one shouldn’t really include them in an ‘significant’ statistics
that there is a vast amount of undiscovered talent out there is a delusion.
A few years later, happily, I started to find some success with my work. My short stories have been published in literary mags and anthologies, and people I respect have said some very kind things about them. The loveliest acceptance I ever received was from an editor called Farhana at Untitledbooks, an online literary magazine, which said that my story was
and had been unanimously selected for the New Voices selection by the editorial team. Her email arrived at a time when I was having a crisis of confidence about my work, and at a time when I was asking myself whether I was going in the right direction. The story was shortly published on the New Voices section of the mag, and can be read here.
Rejection has taught me a great deal about focusing my efforts on finding those little corners.
If rejection has taught me anything, it’s that writers shouldn’t set themselves up for a fall by submitting to unsuitable journals, agents or publishers. The best, and least painful thing to do, is to wait for the right opportunities to come along. I’ve learned that just because your work might be uncommercial or not suitable for the mass-market, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a little niche for it in some corner of the literary world.
– Sarah 

1 thought on “Rejections: A Good Lesson”

  1. Good read. Personally, I saved my first rejection letters ( all very politely worded) because they are proof that I made that effort. In hindsight, they prompted me to do much-needed revisions to my novel, which is still a WIP.

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