The path to literary success…


Choosing to become a writer/ novelist/ journalist is about the stupidest decision a person can make. Unfortunately, most of the people I work and collaborate with don’t recall ever making this choice for themselves. It just kind of happened because it’s who they are. And if they ever actually paused to consider whether it makes sense to dive headlong into a profession in which the odds of payment or success are slim and soul-crushing rejection lurks around every corner, they’d likely turn to a sensible profession like banking or stripping–if it weren’t for the fact that words are crack and getting off them is just about impossible.

So despite being a lifelong over-achiever and poorly-equipped to handle rejection, I figured it was best to embrace the realities of the industry to which I find myself laying siege. You’re going to see a lot of these. Sometimes–most of the time, if my experience is any kind of standard–you’re going to wait and wait and wait for so long that you’ll begin to wish for one of these letters just to confirm your existence and sanity. And then when it comes, in a self-addressed, stamped envelope, it’ll still hurt. But at least you exist. And one day, when you’re whomever you intend to be–I’m shooting for a Bronte sister but I’d settle for Edith Wharton or Philip Pullman, in a pinch–you can tantalize young, desperate, unpublished authors with your tales of numerous rejections and ultimate redemption: a publishing contract.



  1. I’ve shared this elsewhere, I think, but this is the final line from my favorite rejection I’ve received: “Please let me know when the piece finds a home elsewhere, as well, so that I can celebrate with you and enjoy it once more.”

    • I’m hoping that at the end of a long and stressful (successful even, maybe?) literary career, I’ll have a giant scrapbook that I can sit on my lap and fondly peruse the way other people flip through family photos. Instead of children I’ll have a collection of rejection letters and cats.

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