The rejection letter is the writer's cat-o'nine-tails, the scourge of the brotherhood. Everytime I get one, I imagine that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the one where the monks are bashing their heads in with the alpha and omega of their existence, the bible. I get bashed pretty regularly too. No pretty music, though. Therese's Click Here column yesterday provided an amusing link to a place where we can take part in collective suffering.
Rejection letters used to cut me up something fierce. But after 20 or so, that pain ain't no thang. Hell, now they amuse me. I'll share a few gems out of my file, maybe they'll make someone feel better today.
The lamest: a form rejection letter Xeroxed so many times, the font was breaking apart, and the space where the name of the author would go had been painted over with White-Out. It was from a big-name agency too. You'd think they'd care about their reputation just a smidge and have the admin assistant reprint a fresh one. Oh yeah. They don't give a damn about what I think. Just like they didn't give a damn about what I wrote.
The most surprising: three years after I'd mailed the partial and followed up a few times I got a hasty scrawl apologizing for the long time between the request and the rejection. "Though I loved your style, I felt [NAME OF BOOK] wasn't right for me." Hon, that train already left the station and was pulling into Georgia.
The "Hates to Say No" award goes to the editor who detailed in three meaty graphs what she loved about it. Then, "ultimately, I didn't love it enough to be an editorial champion. Best of luck...."
Then there's the assorted "too leisurely", "too frenetic" (yeah, same book), "not commercial enough" (e.g. not a rip-off of a mega best-seller), "don't want the challenge of publishing this in today's market" (explain again why are you an editor?), "I didn't like it" (that I get).
I could go on. I suspect you could, too. The point is most writers have to be rejected before they can be accepted. Some writers get it right the first go out. Lucky them. The rest of us have to slog it out. Or give up.
What are you going to do?
That's right. I'm getting back to work, too.