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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a Twitter thread on writerly rejection….
An American poet whose debut collection Prelude to a Bruise was named a 2014 finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry, Saeed Jones is also executive editor for culture at BuzzFeed.
But the poet grabbed my attention with a recent Twitter thread in which he encouraged writers to share their stories of rejection. The tweets are heartbreaking and hilarious. Here are some of my favourites:
Tiffany Gholar: “I sent query letters day and night until I got pneumonia, but my YA novel [A Bitter Pill to Swallow] was rejected 108 times. So I published it myself. I won the 2016 Book of the Year award for indie fiction from the Chicago Writers Association.”
Lacey Johnson: “The Other Side was rejected by every agent but one & every publisher but one before it became a Discover Pick, a finalist for the NBCC, the Edgar, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the CLMP Firecracker, etc. Rejections are just misrecognitions from people who can’t see me yet.”
Nate Brown: “The story of mine that I liked the best took year & 63 submissions over 3 years. Waitlisted at a residency I really wanted, but totally thrilled at another that I thought was a long shot. Which is to say: there’s no method to the madness, it seems. Gotta just keep on keeping on.”
Justin Nutt: “Rejected or ignored countless times. Founded a publishing company and both rejected books were bestsellers.” [The Good Guy, the Bad Guy, and the Ugly Truth]
Susan Stinson: “I’ve applied to the Massachusetts Artists Fellowships and the NEA every year I’ve been eligible since my early twenties. Nothing but no for thirty years. Applied to Yaddo again after a zillion rejections. I got to spend a month writing in a castle in Scotland through a Hawthornden residency, among others, but never Yaddo.” [Spider in a Tree]
The next time you’re facing rejection, consider this: you are in very good company.
An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on Oct. 29/18.