Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Walkabout Wednesday: The Rejection to End All Rejections

It's Wednesday. Let's go walkabout.
(I'm bringing along a few of my mates as I wander through the vast wilderness of the publishing industry, learning the ins and outs, and having a grand adventure.)

Walkabout, Week 35:

Have I ever mentioned that being a writer is inherently dangerous? Well, it is. Not in a your-life-is-literally-on-the-line way. More of a people-frequently-undermine,-belittle-and-stomp-on-you,-your-writing-and-sometimes-the-cuteness/mental prowess-of-your-children way. I'll admit, no one has specifically mentioned my children when ripping into me as a writer, but it feels that personal sometimes.

Those of you who are writers are currently nodding in understanding, perhaps cringing at the all-too-vivid memories this is conjuring up. Those of you who are not are probably backing away from your computer muttering something about crazy author ladies talking nonsense--'cause who would put up with a job where that is something you deal with regularly?

So, to add a little sunshine to the lives of my fellow authors, here are a few scathing reviews/rejections of works/authors you just might be familiar with and one rejection that I am desperate to get!
"If it were thought that anything I wrote was influenced by Robert Frost, I would take that particular work of mine, shred it, and flush it down the toilet, hoping not to clog the pipes." --James Dickey

"It does not seem to us that you have been wholly successful in working out an admittedly promising idea." --William Golding's rejection of Lord of the Flies in 1954

Wow. Not wholly successful, huh? Missed the boat on that one.

"These stories have trees in them." --Norman MacLean on A River Runs Through It

Did I mention that sometimes reviewers don't make any sense at all?

Okay. Now for the rejection letter that would be framed and hung in a place of honor in my house should I receive it:
From a Chinese publisher (found in Louis Zukofsky's "A")
"Most honorable Sir,
We perused your MS with boundless delight and we hurry to swear by our ancestors we have never read any other that equals its mastery. Were we to publish your work, we could never presume again on our public name to print books of a standard not up to yours. For we cannot imagine that the next ten thousand years will offer its ectype.
We must therefore refuse your work that shines as it were in the sky and beg you a thousand times to pardon our fault, which impairs but our own offices."

I'm not sure if this was meant to be patronizing or sarcastic or just really, really apologetic. Either way, I would be all over this rejection.

So... Go forth ye wielders of the mighty pen. Draft, revise and submit with confidence and determination, endure your own scathing reviews, nasty rejections and jealous tirades that you can stand with head held high and declare, "I AM a writer!!

(ignore "


RobisonWells said...

Awesome. It reminds me of another article that looks at the one-star reviews that classic books get on GoodReads (such as: The Canterbury Tales: “I was bothered by how far out from modern society the attitudes were in this book.”)

Stephanie Black said...

It's remarkable how subjective this whole business can be. One person loves it; another person hates it. Good thing we love writing, or we'd all go nuts.

Kimberly said...

I kind of want to argue with Stephanie a little a say that BECAUSE we're all writers, we've all gone nuts. Personally, I find the insanity entertaining.

I'm eagerly anticipating my first rejection letter. It will mean that I've finally kicked my many neuroses to the curb long enough to finish the darn book.

So congratulations on finishing not just one book, but multiple books. You rock-eth.

mormonhermitmom said...

Luckily, there's something out there for everybody.

Sarah M Eden said...

Rob - "How far out from modern society..." Like 600 years out, maybe? I laughed out loud at that "review." Hilarious!

Annette Lyon said...

Canterbury Tales, huh?

I guess I should be shooting to write what readers will be looking for in the year 2610.

Melanie J said...

I just read a review of The Hunger Games where the reviewer gave it three stars because she didn't buy the premise. Uh, it's dystopian fiction. In a made up place.


Elizabeth Morgan said...

I think rejections are hard but they are for your good because they help you learn.


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