Tuesday, 2 March 2010

A ‘Great Rejection’, is that an oxymoron?

Picture the scene: I log on, the emails flood in. I can buy oil cheaper if I wait five weeks until everyone in the village also needs some. The organic company invite me to view the suggested contents of this week’s vegetable boxes (but pray, they’re the same as last week’s aren’t they? And weren’t they the same as the week before?) Fly (dodgy) Cheap Airlines.com would like me to book our family holiday flights with them. There are no guarantees they’ll fly on the given date of course, or even that the airline will stay in business long enough to bring us home, but nonetheless they’d like me to take a look at their website.

School have sent through some forms for consent to take photos of my babies, for confirmation of their non-allergy to life, for permission to watch a PG rated DVD in school time (ask me if they have my permission to watch a DVD at all in school time and they might get a different answer). They’d also like to know if I can bring in some of those delicious home-made (by the Farm Shop) scones for the fundraising and social cake bake event.

Next, I need to read my meter or I will be thrown off the discounted rate for on-line electricity. Somebody on Facebook is recommending I befriend a friend of theirs and I’ve got the date wrong for the karate grading, it’s actually on Mother’s Day (bang goes that cup of tea in bed, pah!)

But then, as my eyes scan, I flit back to see a name for which I’ve searched, oh, at least every five minutes. It’s Lucy Luck in the sender column. I remember that name anywhere, and you can see why I felt compelled to submit to an agent with a name like that. And yet I don’t open it. Instead I find myself searching for a different un-read email which is bound to warrant my urgent attention. I scribble down names of the people I must reply to in my to-do list and then I make myself a cup of tea. I guess while you don’t know, you can still hope.

However procrastination devices exhausted, I eventually click and there I see the words in lights, right in the middle of the email, ‘...but I’m afraid that I have decided against taking things further,’ she says.

Oh dear.

Then I read on. Lucy has ‘spent some time considering [Glass Houses].’ I start to open the one, half-closed eye again. It’s ‘a difficult decision,’ she says, but she isn’t ‘passionate enough about the book to feel confident in representing it.’ My heart lurches a little again at this point, what’s to say every agent isn’t going to feel this way? But then I read that there’s, ‘much to recommend’ in my writing and I’m back on the edge of my seat.

In that brief moment before printing out the letter and filing it neatly under ‘binned’, I believe that a ‘Great Rejection' is not an oxymoron for it’s a description making perfect sense. There are nice ways and not so nice ways to have your career stalled once again before it’s even in first gear and this was definitely the former. A rejection which leaves me positive and desperate to get straight back onto the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook to seek out where to send my next submission, has to be a Great Rejection.

So onto other situations in life where we find ourselves rejected and yet we still feel great. Are there any? It doesn’t feel nice in relationships and there’s nothing to commend being rejected in the work place. It never felt good at school and even in my forties I still don’t like the idea of everybody being invited out except me. The bank manager does it, even the cash point turns its back sometimes and there’s nothing to be savoured about running out of money. No, I think that a Great Rejection is a non-sensical oxymoron in every other walk of life to that of getting your book published.

But maybe I've missed something? Feel free to correct me if you can ...


  1. Nope, you're not alone in regarding rejections as almost fan mail. I have my last rejection letter on my notice board -- it's addressed to me personally and signed (in pen) by the editor of a big magazine. It says that although this story wasn't quite for them, please would I think of them in the future. Somewhere, recently, I read that one should take seriously whatever encouragement is offered in a rejection letter, so I'm doing exactly that.

  2. Hi Kathryn!
    Yes... I'd be chuffed with that response too :-) and I like the idea of sticking it on your notice board. What are you trying to get published, articles generally or a novel?
    All the best with it!


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