Saturday, August 22, 2009


You have to be stubborn to be a writer. You have to be stubborn with the work itself and you have to be stubborn to keep going in the face of compelling reasons not to write at all, let alone try to make a career out of writing.

One of the first things you have to be stubborn about is rejection. Every writer deals with it. Some have fewer rejections than others, it’s true, but with rare exceptions, writers will have a unpleasantly large collection of rejections. And each rejection is, at best, a thorn that you have to pull out of your side. On a bad day a rejection will be worse; it may become the voice that says, “You’re not good enough. You’ll never be good enough.”

So you let the voice have it’s say and you try to go on and if you can’t go on right away then you do something else for a short time. But you have to shut the voice up and remind yourself that the voice is you. A rejection of a story or novel is just saying that one person on that day can’t publish your work. It’s one opinion by someone who can choose very few pieces to publish. It’s not a rejection of you was a writer; it’s a rejection of one piece you’ve written. There’s plenty more where that came from. If you’re a writer, you have or will write many works of fiction. So let me just say it again. They are not rejecting you as a writer. Only you can do that.

And they’re fricken wrong a lot of the time. Here are just a few, a very few, examples.
William Golding’s LORD OF THE FLIES –20 publisher rejections
JK Rowling’s first Harry book—dozens of publishers passed (they cry themselves to sleep many nights)
Heller’s CATCH 22—many rejections
Madeleine L. Engle’s A WRINKLE IN TIME—29 rejections
Stephen King’s first novel, CARRIE—dozens of rejections
Ursula K. Le Guin, George Orwell, William Faulkner, John LeCarre --all had rejections for great novels.

You have to be stubborn.


Unknown said...

Thanks, great advice. That is why we have blogs and these commonplaces to vent and most importantly to support one another.

Your list of rejectees is quite inspiring!

Brian Yansky said...

Thanks for stopping by, blueeyedadri. I couldn't agree with you more.

Anonymous said...

Actually "Carrie" was King's fourth novel. The other three had not been accepted anywhere. He only received a $2,500 advance for that book. Then it was made into a movie and the rest is history. ha ha
Jo Ann Hernandez
BronzeWord Latino Authors

mark mitchell said...

Hi Brian,

Great interview on Cynthia's blog! I've really enjoyed reading your posts here, too!

Unknown said...

Didn't Kings wife find "Carrie" in the trash and asked him to send it in?
Not sure if I've got the right book?!

Brian Yansky said...

That's interesting, Jo Ann. I wonder what happened to the other three. I love good rejection stories.

Brian Yansky said...

Thanks, Mark.