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Rejections reap rich rewards

Do not let denial take over you, reflect, rewrite, refine, re-edit and submit

Photo: K.R. Deepak

Take rejection in your stride

Little Anita sobs, “I am not in the school programme!” while her father is busy thinking, “No promotion even now?” When Vijay gave a symbolic red rose to his girl friend, he was stunned, “She just threw it away!” At home, Mama slumps at the dinning table, “Nobody liked my bitter-gourd soup!”

What is common in all of them? The sense of ‘Rejection’! A number of horrid synonyms spring to the mind: hurt, failure, distress, despair, humiliation or self-doubt. And for most of us it sounds like ‘the end-of-the-world’.

Perhaps among the worst hit are the budding writers. Immediate reaction could be anything from ‘Wait till I get my hands on the editor’ or ‘Oh! I am no good as a writer’.

Click on the reasoning button and a number of thoughts come up like it is nothing personal or non-acceptance does not mean inferior quality of work. Other reasons could be that the manuscript is unsolicited, unsuitable in size or content for the magazine, topic already covered, publisher flooded with manuscripts at that point of time…

Never get into to the mindset that ‘It doesn’t work. After slogging for so long, putting my heart and soul into this work, now that it is rejected, can I ever write again?’

Rejoice that you are in exalted company. Richard Bach’s `Jonathan Livingston Seagull’, sailed through 20 rejections before its first print. Alex Haley, the author of Pulitzer-prize-winning Roots, had collected countless rejection slips for eight years to publish his first story. A scathing remark was made about Anne Frank: “The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception of feeling which would lift this book above the curiosity level.”

The merit of Dr. Seuss went unrecognised by two-dozen publishers. To his credit are sixty children’s books including the lovable ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’. Rudyard Kipling’s work was rejected and an editor remarked, “I am sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just do not know how to use the English language.”

Even J.K. Rowling had her share of rejections from publishers until Bloomsbury was enchanted by Harry Potter. George Orwell’s satirical masterpiece Animal Farm bounced back with the comment “It is impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S.A.”

War and Peace, The Good Earth, The Fountainhead, To Kill a Mockingbird are among the all-time marvels that raced back like homing pigeons.

After six years and forty rejections, Mary Higgins Clark, went on to create twenty-four bestseller suspense novels.

Ellen Jackson’s Cinder Edna won many awards, sold more than 1,50,000 hardcover copies after knocking in vain the doors of forty publishers.

Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows was rejected as ‘an irresponsible holiday story.’

To get published and win Zelda Sayre’s hand, F. Scott Fitzgerald had to collect rejection slips enough to paper his walls. Jack London, the highest paid writer of his day, had some 600 rejections, out of which 266 were in just one year!

The list could go on and on. So, what’s the bottom line? Richard Bach puts it succinctly, “The difference between the amateur writer and the professional writer is that the professional didn’t quit.”

Rejection simply indicates that the publisher cannot accommodate the work as a viable business proposition. Nail your rejection slips to a spike in the bedroom as Stephen King did or pile them thirty-inch high like Pulitzer winner William Saroyan. File them or shred them. Or, if you want to do your bit for the environment, recycle them. And then, armed like a double-coated pachyderm and with sheer perseverance, get back to your blank sheets with vengeance.

Reflect, rewrite, revise, refine, re-edit and submit to another publisher. Actor Sylvester Stallone’s mantra is, “I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat.”

Yes, sir! That’s the spirit!

INUMELLA SESIKALA

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