We writers deal with rejection all the time. I’m with Louise Brown, who wrote, “I could write an entertaining novel about rejection slips, but I fear it would be overly long.”
Back when printed literary magazines still ran rampant, I was quite a collector of rejection slips. I didn’t realize it at the time, but some of my rejections were giving me a glimpse of the future. In August of ’99, June of ’00 and August of ’05 I received rejections that also notified me the magazines I had submitted to were shutting their doors (Story, Whispering Willows Limited and Pangolin Papers, respectively). In November of ’08 I felt personally responsible when I received a message scrawled on a form rejection, stating, “We regret to inform you that the magazine has closed. The editor died.” Ouch.
Delivering rejections might be as damaging to the health as receiving them.
The word Rejection came to English from Latin, through French. Unsurprisingly, Reject means “to throw back.” Reject’s other meanings include:
-to refuse to recognize
-to set aside or throw away as useless or worthless
There’s a rare meaning, “to be disobedient,” which I suppose may relate to many writers’ responses to rejection.
There are also some meanings that appeal to the fifth grade boy within:
-to expel from the mouth or stomach
As little as I like receiving rejection, I must admit to a sick fascination for truly good, cutting rejection. Dorothy Parker, author, literary critic and wielder of one of the sharpest tongues ever, once reviewed a book by writing, “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force." Oooh. That’s good.
What great rejection tales can you add to this Steaming Heap of Rejection Stories?
Thanks to this week’s sources, Jon Winokur’s The Portable Curmudgeon, etymonline.com, the OED, & wordnik.com.
I write for teens, narrate audio books, bake bread, play music, and ponder the wonder of words in a foggy little town on California's central coast.
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