Rejection slips strike discouragement into the hearts of the most dedicated writers. Many of us feel so much fear and loathing when they arrive in the mail, we may procrastinate marketing our work again. Others take rejection as a sign that they should stop writing entirely.
Next time you’re feeling down about your rejection slips, consider the following:
- Madeline L’Engle’s book, A Wrinkle in Time, was turned down 29 times before she found a publisher.
- C.S. Lewis received over 800 rejections before he sold a single piece or writing.
- Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind was rejected by 25 publishers.
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected 121 times.
- Johathan Livingston Seagull was rejected 40 times.
- Louis L’Amour was rejected over 200 times before he sold any of his writing.
- The San Francisco Examiner turned down Rudyard Kipling’s submission 1n 1889 with the note, “I am sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just do not know how to use the English language.”
- An editor once told F. Scott Fitzgerald, “You’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby Character.”
- The Dr. Seuss book, And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street, was rejected for being “too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant selling.”
- George Orwell’s Animal Farm was rejected with the comment, “It’s impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.”
- The manuscript for The Diary of Anne Frank received the editorial comment, “This girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the curiosity level.”
What is the difference between George Orwell, C.S. Lewis, Margaret Mitchell and the authors whose work never sees the light of day? Published authors don’t give up. They know that editors aren’t always right. They keep on marketing and writing, driven by the passion to tell their stories to the world.
Make a list of twenty reasons why you write. (You may be surprised at what emerges as you do this exercise.) When you’ve finished, circle the top three reasons. Combine them into a 25 word or less mission statement.
Write your mission statement on a three by five card and tape it to the bottom of your computer monitor where you will see it every time you sit down to write. Your mission statement is your touchstone, a reminder to yourself about why you’re writing – and about why you won’t give up.