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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dig Deep into those Drawers

I am low on rejections, friends, having posted all of mine and some of yours. Want to help out? Here's what you can do:

1) If you love this blog, or at least tolerate it, and want to help out, please dig deep into your rejection drawer and send me one or two at writerrejected [at] aol [dot] com.

2) If you are an editor or agent who reads this blog, why not send in your favorite rejection story anonymously? Surely some crazy writer once stalked you, cried at you, later became famous and proved you wrong?

3) If you are a famous writer, just let us know what it's like, will you?


Writer, Rejected said...

Mom! Is that you?

I told you not to come around here any more with your low opinions of me.

I had enough of that in childhood.

rmellis said...

People like commenter #1 are so funny! They hate your blog soooo much they just can't help visiting and reading and leaving comments. Send some of that hate to my blog, pleez.

I'll keep digging. I know I have some, somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Years ago, when I was an editor, another editor asked me to give a fresh read to a ms. written by a then-unknown, now-famous writer who had done a rewrite on a first novel after the editor had given a lengthy session of notes. My colleague had thought the writer was talented but that the book needed work, and substantial cutting (it was about 700 ms. pages).

I read the book but found it wanting, and told my editor friend it didn't work for me; further, the "major" cuts had amounted to a few paragraphs throughout, not the reshaping he'd hoped to see. Perhaps he'd like to reread it himself? My colleague said no, as the work had clearly not been done, and asked me to write a letter to the author. A week later my colleague came to me and said, "What did you say in that letter?!" He'd gotten an enraged letter back from the author. When I showed him my letter, which was less pointed than regretful, my colleague said it was nicer than any he would have written.

Fast forward more than ten years later, when I was asked to introduce several writers at a panel. As I approached the event's organizer, who was talking to a writer, he introduced us: "Do you know [NAME OF WRITER I'D REJECTED MORE THAN A DECADE EARLIER]?" As I shook WIRMTADE's hand, WIRMTADE uttered these words without prelude, in place of hello: "Oh, I have a rejection letter from you." This from someone who, in the more than 10 years since I'd expressed my clearly minority opinion, had gone on to publish numerous well-received and successful books, some of which had been made into successful movies. WIRMTADE had proved me wrong time after time, yet my name triggered that response before any other words came out of WIRMTADE's mouth.

(WIRMTADE did graciously concede later in the evening that when re-reading the rejection letter some year after initially receiving it, WIRMTADE had discovered it to be far kinder and gentler than remembered. Which is how these things go.)

But I marvel at the ability of these rejections to make such a permanent imprint. A cautionary tale for both writers and editors...

Anonymous said...

FWIW, my mom thinks I should quit writing, too.

Happily, my beta readers think I'm good. And unlike Mom, they read my work! ;)

Just wanted to come out of lurkdom and say, I'm enjoying your blog tremendously. You're clearly talented, and you're a wonderful inspiration to us aspiring authors to keep heart. We're all in this together. :)

Writer, Rejected said...

I love it when a lurker comes out of the shadows to say a word or two; thank you, thomma lyn!

Anonymous said...

Here's a magazine worth blogging about. They reject you by race:

They're a general interest magazine. And as the guidelines say: "Hispanic writers preferred."

This is not the only one. Plenty of magazines reject you by race. I could list them. Maybe I will. But none are for that "special" race that unlike the others does not get a hyphenated name or its proper name in caps. Sorry, but how come no one can ever say "Caucasian writers preferred" and be allowed to exist, but a double standard be applied everywhere else? At least my ancestors immigrated here legally and learned the customs and language. But everybody seems to be above assimilation now, I guess. It should make things quite "vibrant" in the years to come.

Writer, Rejected said...

You don't need a magazine that specifies Caucasian Writers Preferred.....because that's pretty much every magazine you can think of, isn't it? I think it's nice that there are some mags in the world who are by and for people of certain races, genders, and nationalities. I like to read those mags and the editions of mags that sometimes have a special volume. It means some otherwise unheard voices get heard. I personally don't think it much takes away from the Caucazoids.

Anonymous said...

I'm like you in that I like magazines for certain races, nationalities and so on. I like to "peek" in different cultures and, more importantly, I like that cultures are allowed to have some kind of self-determination, keep themselves together as one.

But Caucasians are not allowed to do this. They're not allowed to group together as a race, or to even talk about this. It's a privilige of all other races. This is a fairly new development, a characteristic of our times. And it has a big effect on writing (and rejection, since it's such a touchy issue).

I know you said that we "don't need a magazine that specifies Caucasian Writers Preferred" -- well, regardless of whether or not we need it (or whether we need another Hispanic mag, for that matter), the fact remains that we cannot *do* it. It would be totally outlawed.

But I do have to disagree with your comment "because that's pretty much every magazine you can think of, isn't it?"

No. I *work* at a magazine and have worked at papers for almost a dozen years. Unlike the magazine I linked to (and all the other ones out there like it, there are lots), we assign work to all races and do not let race come into play. We can't, anyway: we have Equal Opportunity in place and besides, myself (like most people, I think) don't assign articles because we prefer a person's race to other races or have weird race "issues".

The fact is, there isn't a single magazine or newspaper (well, except purposefully "racist" or "white power" ones) that say they "prefer" Caucasians to other races. Ever read Ebony magazine? They don't publish Caucasian writers. It's not a hate magazine, but a magazine associated with the culture of being Negro (or black, or African-American, or whatever you want to call it). There is no respective Caucasian (or white, or European-American, or whatever) equivalent, nor could there be today without riots and all kinds of stuff. You could never say the word "prefer" in this case, and you could never enact a preference for Caucasian writers or editors at any publication without big trouble. I'm saying it's not right, it's a double standard, and regardless of whether one nationality or race is over- or under-represented in a particular region or nation, the fact remains that it's still racism.

But anyway, I threw it out there but maybe it's best to walk away. It's a real touchy issue and I doubt it could be addressed in a serious and fair manner, even in a blog, without huge repercussions.

Writer, Rejected said...


Well, in my humble opinion, racism cannot be waged against the majority group in a culture when it holds the majority of the power, as Caucasions do here. By definition, racism is used against a marganilized and generally silenced minority.

So I don't agree that one tiny Hispanic Literary Magazine could actually be counted among the many ways our society is structured to institutionalize racism against certain marginalized populations. Maybe Caucasions aren't allowed in this magazine, but because Caucasions are not generally marginalized as a class of people, they cannot truly be silenced, so this magazine cannot be counted as racism.

I therefore don't think there's anyway to draw a parallel between a magazine for marginalized voices and the so-called "White's Only" policy you are discussion in theory as an analogy. Given the power differential, they are in no way the same. That's why there are laws against it, as you point out. To me, that seems perfectly fair.

Anonymous said...

YOU SAY: "There is no respective Caucasian (or white, or European-American, or whatever) equivalent, nor could there be today without riots and all kinds of stuff."

I SAY: The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, GQ, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, House & Garden, Red Book, People Magazine, US, Time Magazine, etc, etc, etc.

Whitey, White, White, White!

I agree with W,R: Most of the world is a magazine for White People