“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
― Thomas A. Edison
Have you ever considered giving up? Good news, you are not alone.
I’m going to give you a few example of others who almost pitched in the towel and left the writing to others. . . almost. Thank goodness they didn’t give up.
Most recent, during an interview with Writers Digest,author Joe Hill (The Heart Shaped Box, Horns, NOS4A2, and the short story collection 20th Century Ghosts) talked about his journey toward publication. He didn’t tell his agent who he was because he wanted his writing to stand on its own merit. In other words, he didn’t want anyone to publish his novel because he was Stephen King’s son.
The list is long and varied. Mystery author Agatha Christie collected 500 rejections in four short years.
The quality of the message associated with rejection is also often disheartening and horrific. Here’s a paraphrase of a rejection received by author Zane Grey, “you have no business being a writer and should give up”.
Sometimes the ability to choose the correct or enthusiastic publisher or agent eludes us, but the person who believes in our work as much as we do is out there.
The authors of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” were informed that anthologies don’t sell. Can you believe that? Thank goodness they didn’t.
C.S.Lewis collected 800 rejections for “The Chronicles of Narnia”, and Margaret Mitchell received 38 rejections for “Gone with the Wind”.
Author Paul Coelho sees a limited 800 copies of “The Alchemist” sell, but with a new publisher, the number climbs to 75 million in print.
Fourteen agencies reject Stephanie Meyers “Twilight” which went on to spend 91 weeks on the NYT.
L. Frank Baum, told his works was “too radical a departure from juvenile literature”, finally sells “The Wonderful Wizard of OZ”.
Louisa May Alcott was told by a publisher, “you should stick to teaching” which, thankfully she did not, and is still in print 140 years later.
Even the esteemed Beatrix Potter, the beloved author of “Tales of Peter Rabbit” was rejected so often she chose to self publish. From its original 250 copies to 45 million.
The Christopher Little Literary Agency collects twelve rejections for author J.K.Rowlings’ “Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone”, until the eight year old daughter of a Bloomsbury editor insists on being allowed to finish reading the manuscript. This led the way for this series of books which now has more than 450 million books in print.
The message here is clear. Rejection is a part of the writing life. We all experience it in different ways, at different levels, and with or without rancor. But persistence is the key to success. The willingness and the ability to come back and try just one more time can be the difference between life an author, and life wishing you’d finished the last book.
So, how do you deal with rejection?
How much time do you allot for disappointment?
What do you do to get back on track?