Silent Rejections By Deb Anna

It’s funny. Although I can think of — and regale you with — endless tales of the rejection I’ve endured, most of it hasn’t come in the form of letters. No, rejection for me has always come in the form of deafening, endless silence. No news is always bad news, in my experience. This, I think, is a good thing.

From the jobs I’ve interviewed for (back before I managed to work out this scam called professional writer-dom that entails not having to actually report to work anywhere) to the magazines where I’ve submitted pieces to the publishing houses that passed on my book, the rejection I’ve faced has at times felt so insurmountable that “‘ll show them” might as well be tattooed on my forehead. Still, I’ve never uttered those words while clutching a tear-drenched, crumpled missive.

In my better moments, I know that rejection is just the universe’s way of saying “not right now.” Some wise people I know go so far as to say that “rejection is God’s protection,” because they believe that whatever that thing is that we so desperately want at the time simply isn’t right for us and we’re too stuck in our perception and desires to see that. And almost all of the truly successful people I know — the writers, anyway — are the ones who continually brush off their rejections and brace themselves for another fight back there into the ring.

When I was a freelance magazine writer, I got fairly good at this — probably because without that kind of tenacity, I’m fairly certain I would have starved. At one point during this period, I became obsessed with writing for Details, deciding that it was the only publication that covered what I found interesting with the right tone. The problem was that every time I sent them my clips, I received rejection in the form of silence. Then, one day, after about the sixth time I sent my clips, I got an email from the managing editor, asking me if I wanted to write something. And I wrote for them for years, until i moved on to another obsession — namely, writing a novel — and forgot all about how much I’d sworn that as long as I got to write for Details, my life would be eternally complete.

I wish I could say the rejections have diminished as the years have passed, but that’s simply not the case. I’d also like to state that I’ve gotten better at handling them, but I fear that’s not truthful, either. I think that I fantasize that I’ll one day get everything I want, but even if I reach mammoth levels of success, I know myself and thus feel certain I’ll never see it that way.

The one thing I remain pretty content with is the fact that my rejection still doesn’t come in the form of letters. After all, it’s far easier to pretend something didn’t happen — and thus try and get right back on the horse again — if you never had to see that you once didn’t get it staring back at you in black and white.

10 Replies to “Silent Rejections By Deb Anna”

  1. I picture you very Scarlet O’Hara-ish in this post. The crumpled letter in one hand, your chin thrust out in determination. You can work this…

  2. I like Eileen’s image. I’m picturing you starring in the film version of this blog post, all breathy and strong, singing “Tomorrow,” and wearing skinny jeans made of curtains. Your top is made of the matching valance and is blousy–skinnies can be so cruel.

  3. THUMP — the sound of my jaw dropping. Anna, how have you escaped the written rejection? Impressive, yet silence isn’t always golden either. Who knows, maybe we do get and have what we want without always realizing it?

  4. I hate not knowing… anything is better than that. I can’t imagine hearing NOTHING. It would drive me utterly insane. Silence, in this case, is not golden. I’d probably be like some weird stalker, sending emails, calling — just tell me NO, for heavens sake. Don’t leave me hanging.

    You’re a stronger person than I.

  5. Ooh, I like that and have to agree: rejection is just the universe’s way of saying “not right now.” I’ve also heard the other one, “rejection is God’s protection,” which I also think is lovely. It just helps us realize that sometimes we can’t see the whole picture.

  6. I agree with Marianne. It would drive me crazy not knowing. If I’m being rejected I want to know upfront so I can shed my tears and move on to something else. It would hurt me far worse to spend weeks thinking I “made it” only to find out I was wrong. I do firmly believe that we learn something new just by trying so even if I expect to be rejected I still give it a shot. You never when you just might get a surprise.

  7. Rejection. A powerful word. It conjures up all magnitude of finality to the rejected one. Yet with further introspection, it opens up the closed door to the soul. All we want. all we need. all we demand. All we desereve. These are all the fragments of a soiled cloth. Rejection is after all a punch in the mouth a wake up call. It humbles us. It brings us to bended knee.It demands growth of spirit and dedication of will.How else could one expect to become a meaningful,worthwile human being. An excess of happiness would probably defy logic.(although wouldn’t it be fun to imagine) So we mix the two happiness and rejection. The final brew is intoxicating. One really learns little from his or her success.Failure and rejection move us to personal achievements we never thought possobile.Your writing is good because you put so much of your soul into your words.You are a Dam good writer,destined to become better.

  8. Rejection can be harsh, but you seem to handle it well. Personally, I’d rather hear back quickly, even if the answer is “Thank you for submitting your piece, but it pretty much stunk” At least then I would know for sure. I usually try to keep my hopes low, and then when I do well on something it’s a pleasant surprise!

  9. I really agree with the “God’s protection” thing. My MS languished on the desk of my current agent (who also happened to be the first person I ever sent anything to) for 10.5 months! But I needed those ten and a half months to learn so many skills that I will need as an author. Heck, they were skills I needed just to make it through the revision period with my agent.I was not ready when I sent her my book. But when she called almost a year later, I was ready.

    Ready to send her a much better revision for one thing!:)


  10. I loved this post, Anna. It’s a good reminder that even when our biggest wishes come true (like writing for Details and getting your novel published) there are always new goals tempting and teasing us from the edge of the horizon. Where would be without our ever-shifting obsessions? I, for one, hope that I’ll never be satisfied, because that would mean I’d stop pushing myself to go after the next big thing.

Comments are closed.