Thursday, October 29, 2009


Rejection is a part of life as a human being. We all face it at some time or another. Some rejections are small and only bring a twinge of pain, others are more significant and leave us reeling.

Like everyone else, I’ve had my share of rejections. When I was ten, a popular girl that I admired told me that I was annoying and, though I have no doubt it was true, it hurt a lot. Clearly, since I still remember it two decades later. Not getting anything bigger than a bit part in a school play was a bummer, but, hey, at least I was still in it, right? Being dumped by my boyfriend the night I got home after being out of town for a month (and learning he’d found a new girlfriend while I’d been away, in spite of my every other day letters in the interim) was excruciating. I still remember staring silently at him on my doorstep that night, and the laugh that I couldn’t help at his uncomfortable, mumbled, concluding words, “This doesn’t mean we can’t still be friends.” At that moment all I wanted was to punch him as hard as I could so I stepped back into my house and closed the door. I stared at the door for a moment, then thought, “Heck, why not?” and opened the door back up, only to hear his truck peeling out of our driveway. It didn’t take long after that for me to realize what a disaster my life would most certainly have become if I’d stayed with him, but at the time… I know from experience that sixteen-year-old girls feel the pain of rejection exquisitely.

Rejection is painful, as a rule. But I have experienced one rejection in my life that I not only think of with satisfaction, but I keep the evidence of it in my desk drawer. Several years ago, I went through a creative outlet phase- I wrote a few children’s book manuscripts and a couple of stories for children’s magazines. I bought the “2005 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market” and researched agents and magazines. Nothing that I submitted got even a nibble and most of my rejections were form letters. Except for one.

As a child, I loved the children’s literature magazine, “Cricket”, and I still love it. Monthly publications full of high quality writing and illustrations. As I wrote, I could envision a particular story being just the right fit for “Cricket Magazine”. Why start at the bottom and work your way up when you could just try starting at the top? I put my fourteen hundred words, cover letter, and self-addressed stamped envelope in the mail and waved goodbye.

A few eons later, I got a reply. (Yay!) “Several of our editorial staff have now read your story…” (Yay!) “…and I’m sorry to say that, after much discussion, we’ve decided it isn’t right for either Cricket or Spider.” (Oh.)

The letter went on to say, “Your writing style is bright and humorous…” (Yay!) “…but the story as a whole goes on too long and ultimately lacks the kind of plot trajectory and narrative drive we prefer”, is “somewhat predictable”, and “follows a familiar pattern.”

(Let that sink in for a minute.)

Did you hear that? Several of the editorial staff read it! And discussed it! And they sent me a critique! And they think my writing style is bright and humorous! Woohoo!

Ahhh, rejection. If only they could all feel this good…


  1. I linked to here from Nat and really like your writing. true. and it doesn't really get easier. sigh.

  2. Hi, dreamfarmgirl, and welcome! Thanks for the encouragement- it's nice for a newbie blogger to hear that people are enjoying what they're reading. : )

  3. I enjoyed reading your thoughts too, Kristen, and especially appreciate your honesty. Touched a few places in my heart as well...and the fact that you found a silver lining from the editor's words says ALOT about who you are! It is a pleasure to meet you...

  4. It's a pleasure to meet you as well, Rose! You have no idea how much your and dreamfarmgirl's comments have encouraged me- other people actually think I'm writing something worth reading! (yay!)
    Thank you so much for following my blog! : )

  5. Hang in there, it's a tough road, but a wonderful journey as well.

  6. You're right on both counts, Erin. Thanks for checking out my blog. : )

  7. I'm glad that you see the silver in this cloud. How encouraging for you to be given this gift. As we used to say in our service business "A complaint is a gift." In your case this well thought out response is a gift.

  8. Yes, it really was a gift, Corrie. Form letters just suck but to know someone actually thought my writing warranted enough time and attention to actually send a critique and the reason they're not using it is much more encouraging!

  9. That's really great! I guess it's like they say in Hollywood (or what I imagine they say in Hollywood, having only been there once about 17 years ago) -- all press is good press, right? Good stuff, and I look forward to reading more!


  10. It's funny, Andrea, I quoted that same line in a comment to someone else today. Thanks for visiting my blog, I hope you come back soon! : )