Thursday, 1 October 2015

THE ART OF REJECTION by VALERIE LAWS

It's not looking good for your latest submission...

OW. It hurts. Someone, some stupid, bigoted, illiterate, stuck-up barsteward, has rejected your writing. HOW VERY DARE THEY! Quick, get onto facebook, get some lurve from fellow-writers who will understand your agony.
‘Just had a rejection from ‘Crappy Ezine’, so upset! Doubting my entire life’s work. About to set fire to my pile of typescripts. ☹’
Friends zoom in with verbal chicken soup for your infected soul. ‘Ignore them, they are jealous of your genius!’ ‘Never heard of it!’ ‘Editor probs only publishes their mates! Sod them!’ ‘I think you’re brilliant, strong, talented, you don’t need them!’ All hoping you'll not have to say the same to them.
Yeah, right. 
Yes it does hurt to have the outpourings of your inner being, carefully crafted into art by hours of self-scarification, sent back, regardless of how many famous authors we are told were also rejected numerous times. In fact it’s harder to be rejected now in some genres than ever before, poets and short story writers are spoiled for choice with masses of online mags springing up all over the internet as well as the old skool dead tree ones. It’s only a matter of time until a close friend starts 'Me&MyMates ezine', and they won’t risk rejecting you if they want to come to your next birthday party. You hope.
No fair! Wah!
However is it necessary to wail about it on social media? It’s not news, or if it is, if it’s that rare for you, maybe you’re doing very well, and it’s a new form of humblebragging. Such as: ‘Arrgghh! Just had a rejection from ‘The Liminal Soul Suck’ online mag! After a run of 57 accepted poems, 16 competition wins, four agents fighting for my favours and a Nobel prize! My life is over!’

I recall a time when rejection was the norm. We all got lots of it, back in the day. There weren’t many small publishers of mags, and nobody would look at your work for anything higher if you had no track record. You had to earn it all the hard way, the equivalent to playing gigs for a man and a dog down the local pub. It was so normal, you’d not have bothered posting about it, had there been any social media. You might swear a bit on your own, and then just get on with it. However high you rise, apart from a few who are beyond it, it never really goes away, does rejection - there’s no way to reject it. Beatrix Potter self-published after 'Peter Rabbit' (her lovely drawing is below) was rejected numerous times.
'So you got rejected again, comfort-eating won't help.'
Anyway, if you have had your work rejected and you are still steaming about it, here’s balm for your pain. Bibliotheca Non Grata (http://www.rejectedbooks.org), a new artwork of rejected books. You can submit your rejected books titles to the two artists Måns Wrange and Igor Isaksson for inclusion in this library of the lost, this bookshelf of the booted-out. Their artwork will consist of a pictured bookshelf with the titles of rejected books on the spines, and they even plan to publish the rejected titles and first lines in hard copy, available to borrow from the library. But surely this book will be humungous!

'At last! My name on a book!' Bibliotheca Non Grata.
‘We call for titles of rejected literary works in any language and of any writing genre, fictional as well as nonfictional. Each of the first 365 submitted titles – one for each day of the year – will be represented by a hardbound empty book in the library Bibliotheca Non Grata, with the title printed on the spine of the book. All submitted titles of rejected works will be included in the public online catalogue of Bibliotheca Non Grata.’

What are you waiting for? You can see your title on a spine, of an empty book admittedly, or listed in a catalogue. Get submitting. Though – what if they reject your rejected title? Arrrgghhh! Facebook friends, share my sorrow! How very dare they!

Find out more about my various projects and productions on valerielaws.com (books, art installations etc)
Some of my thirteen books are now on Kindle UK US, iBooks UK USKoboNook and more, on all platforms worldwide.
Follow me on Twitter @ValerieLaws or find me on facebook 


15 comments:

Wendy Jones said...

I loved this post Valerie. Great insight and perspective. The library of rejected books sounds like an interesting project

Catherine Czerkawska said...

This made me laugh so much on a morning when I'm feeling jaded! I rather wish I'd kept all my rejections over the years. I could probably paper a room with them and some of them were very funny. The two most memorable, albeit for different reasons, were the elderly and grumpy agent who told me that my novel was a 'library novel fit only for housewives'. So many insults crammed into one short pithy phrase. (The book did well thereafter so yah boo sucks to him!) Also, the person who told me that she liked the 'livelihood' of the little boy in my poem, but not much else. For once, I broke my policy of NEVER replying to rejections, and told the editor of Liminal Soul Suck that I really couldn't take serious criticism from somebody who didn't know the difference between liveliness and livelihood. But social media does seem to have encouraged a certain vulnerability among otherwise quite successful writers, doesn't it?

Leela said...


This will resonate with all writers! I love the idea of this library! Oh the pain of rejection to be archived!

Nick Green said...

One of my rare (very rare) poems.

Submission

Another flare to fire into the night
More leaden lines to try and turn to gold
More waiting for the fickle fish to bite
Another script is straining to be sold

A lifeline twists into a hangman's rope
A brave new spring becomes a dreary drought
Another coal to feed the fires of hope
Another clinker soon to be spat out.

Mari Biella said...

I love the idea of the Bibliotecha Non Grata - but surely it will only be a matter of time before they start rejecting manuscripts too?!

AliB said...

Great post - and great poem, Nick. Reminds me of a recent Tweet of mine about submitting: "an act of faith, vote of (self)confidence or sometimes a shot in the dark."
I have actually decided not to moan about rejection on FB or Twitter(who wants to look like a failure?) except of course amongst trusted groups of friends - AE you have been warned ;)

Lydia Bennet said...

thanks for all comments and Nick for your poem, glad it's given some of you a laugh.

Nick Green said...

I certainly have much more livelihood this evening thanks to your comment, Catherine.

Catherine Czerkawska said...

Thanks, Nick!

Lydia Bennet said...

Yes some great rejections there Catherine! Gawd the things we put up with.

John A. A. Logan said...

Peter Rabbit proving there that, even in the pre-Superfood Era, the humble carrot could soothe those pangs of rejection!

Dennis Hamley said...

Wish I'd had some funny rejections. I've only ever received weasel words such as 'list', 'suitable', 'at this time', 'for', and 'not', not necessarily in that order. 'You snotty little rat,' I thought but did not say. Perhaps I should have.

Reb MacRath said...

Ah, memory lane. Great post, Valerie.

Lydia Bennet said...

Thanks! :)

Fran B said...

Am I alone in suspecting that Bibliotecha Non Grata is an April Fool in October?