Monday, July 19, 2010


As writer's, we all have to face the dreaded 9-letter word... REJECTION. Sadly, the next step can sometimes be self-doubt. It starts with that nagging voice in the back of your mind that says, "Maybe you aren't good enough". Perhaps the self doubt goes even further and tells you that you chose the wrong dream to chase, give up now and forget about this whole 'writing thing'. I have even once, allowed self doubt to push me right into a slump, or what we writer's lovingly refer to as WRITER'S BLOCK. It took my co-writer & my agent a bit of reverse psychology (using my own 'pep talk' against me) to pry me off my pity pot and get me back in line. Today when the fear of rejection creeps in or self-doubt begins to whisper ever so softly in my ear, I simply remember the following, and I am instantly renewed...

1) William Golding's LORD OF THE FLIES was rejected by 20 publishers and was even called 'an absurd, uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull'.

2) Frank Hubert's DUNE was rejected 20 times before making it's way to print.

3) Stephen King was rejected dozens of times for his novel CARRIE. One publisher even stated, 'we are not interested in science fiction with negative utopias...THEY DO NOT SELL'.

4) Meg Cabot, author of THE PRINCESS DIARIES, was rejected by 17 publishers before landing a deal.

5)Madeline L'Engle's A WRINKLE IN TIME was rejected by 26 publishing houses.

6) Margaret Mitchell's riveting GONE WITH THE WIND, was rejected a whopping 36 times before landing a publisher.

7) John Grisham's A TIME TO KILL was rejected by 16 literary agents AND 12 publishers before marking the beginning of the best seller's career.

8) James Patterson, one of the most prolific and successful writers alive, was rejected more than a dozen times.

And last but certainly not least...

9) J.K. Rowling's (Yes! 'THE' J.K. Rowling) HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE (Now, The Sorcerer's Stone) was rejected by over a dozen publishing houses including, Penguin Books and Harper Collins. OUCH!!

Next time you get a rejection or self-doubt begins to poison your thinking, remember... The ugly 9-letter word doesn't mean that you aren't good enough, it just means that someone else will have the grand opportunity to kick themselves later on when the 9-letter word turns into the 3-letter word...YES!


  1. Yep, having a work rejected isn't fun, that's for sure. But it's part of the process of submitting a work for consideration.

    Being told that the piece didn't match up or meet the standard for publication can seem pretty harsh, especially when a reason isn't given, and even then when one is. It's similar to applying for a job you've worked hard to prepare for and you're certain you're qualified for, and then getting a form letter declining you even an interview--often after a long wait.

    I guess that's one reason (of many) writing isn't a path for everyone.

  2. it sure is an ugly word, isn't it? But it's part of the game, huh? Nice seeing all those popular names getting rejected as well. Sounds mean to say, but it helps a little, you know?

    Great post here. Thanks!

  3. Always encouraging to hear these stories. They do help to keep rejection in perspective.

  4. This post has made me feel so much better! Thanks.


  5. The 28 people who rejected John Grisham are visionaries, patriots and scholars.

    Keep writing. I will too. This post is making hit the notebook with pencil tonight. Thanks.

  6. CK - Great article! Rejection is also alive and well in the film festival world too - I once took it upon myself to cull down a ton of rejection notices into a cut-up poem - enjoy! David Baeumler

    There Were Many Worthy Works

    First off.
    Thank you.
    We appreciate your high regard.
    Truly honored.
    This is the part we dread.
    Every year.
    Our hearts are heavy.
    We face a difficult task.
    We are endlessly awed.

    Please understand.
    This year.
    Over 6,000 entries.
    Over 250 entries.
    Over 8,500 in total.
    Don’t be discouraged.
    Flooded with over 1,439 entries.
    200% more than last year.
    Astounding amount of work.
    Over 500 films qualified according to our judges.
    Each film received at least three viewings.
    With anticipation and care.
    Exciting, daunting, truly amazing process.
    Extremely competitive.
    A testament to the vitality of cinema.

    Due to exhibition limitations.
    Space especially tight.
    Only 50 films.
    Only 5 nights.
    Cannot possibly.
    If it were up to me.
    Many worthy works.
    A final vote was taken.
    It boils down to.

    Due to the incredible number.
    Unable to give individual reasons.
    This is not an assessment of your work.
    We strongly encourage you.
    Please attend.
    Discount badge rate.
    Wonderful networking opportunities.
    The community of independent filmmakers and voices continues.
    You continue.
    Please continue.
    It’s filmmakers like you.
    Always amazed.
    Energy and passion.
    Overlooked gems.
    We wish you luck.
    Showcase your work in the future.
    Our warm appreciation.
    Best wishes.
    Join our newsletter.

  7. This is AWESOME Dave...thanks so much for posting. As writers we sometimes forget the film makers and screenwriters out there and the fact that their journey is most times just as difficult Thanks for reminding me and by the way...My warm appreciation, best wishes, good get the point!

  8. All of us go through it - no matter what the creative field, that's for sure. I was talking to a writer friend last week who believed there were tiers of writers. The good ones flounder around trying to get somewhere and the great ones rise to the top. I totally reject this idea. I believe that writers (and filmmakers, etc...) have potential to be great - but without the right kind of encouraging / nurturing at the right time those writers can fall back into cliches instead of finding their true voice. Of course, it's more than a pat on the back - it's getting real constructive criticism that cuts off the dead limbs and lets the strong ones flourish. Sadly, many writers don't find that kind of feedback in their lives - that's why I appreciate what you and the other folks at Tribe Lit are doing. Keep it up! Dave b.

  9. This a great reminder to all of us! Thanks for the post!

  10. Thanks for the inspiring post! It's a constant challenge not to take any form of rejection personally. But you must remember "it's the journey, not the destination," right?!