Contents


Rejection

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Rejection


Rejection - Cooks flinging oies

In this chapter:

Have more than one egg in the basket
Put it down to experience
Save it until your genius is recognised
Don’t take no for an answer
Famous rejected novels
Should I give up?


Rejection is something that every writer has to face. But you don’t have to let it get you down. Here are some tips for surviving the inevitable.

Have more than one egg in the basket

The best way to avoid a crushing disappointment is to have more than one project on the go. If you’ve got only a single project in the pipeline all your hopes and enthusiasm might follow it down the drain.

Put it down to experience

Your writing, like any skill, will develop with practice. As long as you’re constantly looking for ways to improve your writing, the more you do it, the better you’ll get. If you look at it this way any rejects you produce are necessary stepping-stones towards your first piece of accepted work.

Save it until your genius is recognised

Just because your work is rejected doesn’t necessarily mean it’s no good. It might have more to do with the fact that you’re an unknown. Few people are prepared to take a risk on new talent but once you achieve a measure of success you might find some of your old reject material suddenly becomes attractive. An example of this sort of transformation is the screenwriter Jimmy McGovern. McGovern had been writing for years until he had a hit with the crime drama Cracker. Following the success of Cracker two of McGovern’s old scripts (the television drama Hearts and Minds and the movie Priest) were picked up and made.

Don’t take no for an answer

Or rather, don’t take one person’s no as an answer. If an agent publisher or producer rejects your work, sent it to another. There are many out there and they all have different tastes. Take the children’s writer Dr Seuss (real name Theodor Geisel). Theodor’s first book was rejected by 23 publishers. A chance encounter with an old friend led Theodor to a meeting with publisher number 24 who gave him a contract 20 minutes after seeing his work.

Famous rejected novels

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J K Rowling. Twelve rejections.
Dune by Frank Herbert. Thirteen rejections.
M*A*S*H by Robert Hooker. Twenty-one rejections.
Dubliners by James Joyce. Twenty-two rejections.
Carrie by Stephen King. Thirty rejections.
Watership Down by Richard Adams. Forty-six rejections.

Should I give up?

It’s your choice. Many people are happy to write for their own pleasure and don’t mind so much if their work is never accepted. Others get disheartened by the constant stream of rejections and pack it in.

An old saying goes:

‘If at first you don’t succeed; try, try, try again.’

W.C. Fields said:

“If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Then give up. There’s no point in making a fool of yourself over it.”

There’s something to be said for both points of view. If you don’t enjoy writing and everyone says you’re terrible, what’s the point? But if you do enjoy it and think you’re improving, stick at it and see what happens.


Main image: Everrett Collection c/o Shutterstock

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