Rejection Equals Writer Fuel

I’ve shared here on the DebBall before my sad, terrible, no good tale of soul-shattering rejection. As writers, we’ve all faced our share of rejections — and the bad news is, just having a book out in the world doesn’t mean the end of it. Nope, you’ll still get countless rejections every time you go on sub, other people’s books will hit best-of or bestseller lists while yours languishes, you’ll see others on panels and at events you would have been perfect for. You’ll write books that’ll still end up stuffed in that drawer. You know the one. The reject drawer.

What I’m saying is: rejection is a part of the cycle of writerly life, and it truly never ends. It’s what you do with it that can make or break you. Luckily, Dhonielle and I are of the same mindset when it comes to rejection: pick up, move on, and let it FUEL you forward. Yep, we take that negative energy and spiral it into something super-productive, something that we can later shove into people’s faces and say, “Oh No? See, I told you so.” Okay, so not really exactly that. But sort of. Because wallowing is healthy and good — for a minute. But turning those hardships into future success? So much healthier and more soul-healing.

I know it’s easier said than done, but this philosophy has served me well. When my thesis script was in development and got canned at the last minute, I decided to pick up and turn that script into a novel. When I couldn’t quite get the craft right solo (and was told as much by a few key readers), I went to grad school for fiction — and met my partner-in-CAKE, Dhonielle. When our first agent wouldn’t pull the trigger, we decided it was time to leave, and queried and had a deal just three months later. Of course, there will be plenty more rejection along the way (see above!), but I’ve learned from past experience that it’s all part of the plan, and you will come out of it better in the end.

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An entertainment and lifestyle journalist published by The New York Times, People, ABC News, MSN, Cosmopolitan and other major national media, SONA CHARAIPOTRA currently curates a kickass column on YA books and teen culture for A collector of presumably useless degrees, she double-majored in journalism and American Studies at Rutgers before getting her masters in screenwriting from New York University (where her thesis project was developed for the screen by MTV Films) and her MFA from the New School. When she's not hanging out with her writer husband and two chatter-boxy kids, she can be found poking plot holes in teen shows like Twisted and Vampire Diaries. But call it research: Sona is the co-founder of CAKE Literary, a boutique book development company with a decidedly diverse bent. Her debut, the YA dance drama Tiny Pretty Things (co-written with Dhonielle Clayton), is due May 26 from HarperTeen. Find her on the web at or

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This article has 8 Comments

  1. “What I’m saying is: rejection is a part of the cycle of writerly life, and it truly never ends.”

    It’s odd when people seem to expect it to be otherwise. Every other part of life is full of rejection — why should the writing life be the one exception?

  2. Great post, Sona. A gentle reminder to everyone to keep at it never hurts. I guess some folks never expect rejection, but it builds character and makes the payoff so much sweeter.

    We never grabbed that coffee…and now I’ve moved to West Orange. But should you ever have the inclination, I would love to grab that coffee.

    Rock on.

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