For some reason, I began thinking about all of the rejection letters I have received since I first began submitting my writing in high school. That was 17 years ago and I gathered a lot of rejection letters until I stopped trying a few years ago. I didn’t quit writing, but decided that there had to be another way for me. I felt a change in the writing world and I was seeing it in the rejection letters. There was no longer a pretense of publishers and agents reading my submissions. One even messed up spelling my name and write the title of a book that wasn’t familiar. Many times I never got a response, so I began looking into the industry. I really had no idea what was going on until I received the following statement in an agent’s rejection letter:
“We think you have talent and your story shows a lot of promise. Sadly, you are not Stephen King, so we have no place for you. We wish you the best of luck.”
This confused me for several days because I was well aware that I wasn’t Stephen King. For one thing, I have interest in Maine and I’m shorter. I assumed that this comment meant one of the following translations:
1. You are not as talented as Stephen King, so we don’t want you.
2. I wasn’t as famous as Stephen King, so they weren’t willing to take the risk.
Now, I can fully agree with and accept the first translation because I think Stephen King is better than me right now. I’m always learning and evolving my style, so I could reach his level at some point. For now, he is one of the masters and I’m one of the struggling peons.
That second one is what I think was really being said and that irked me. A lot. Not because they were wrong because they were right. It was because I felt like they were rejecting me because I wasn’t already published. Yet, I had been rejected by publishers for not having an agent. It was my first time meeting the Writer’s Catch 22: You need an agent to get published, you need a fanbase to get an agent, but you need to be published to get a fanbase. I was young and easily angered, so I did what any rational author would do. I started thinking up various ways to destroy the rejection letters and laugh like a maniac while doing it. There were darts, swords, scissors, lacing one with peanut butter and leaving it out for the squirrels, and so many other methods that should nominate me for a padded room. The Stephen King one made it to the end where I simply burned it over a pot and swore I was going to prove everyone wrong. In retrospect, I probably should have kept that rejection letter on the off chance that I ever meet Stephen King.
So, the point of this post is to reveal my past with rejection letters, which has been plaguing my mind and ask the following question:
What was the most bizarre or inspirational rejection letter you ever received and what did you do with it?