In Defense of Rejection

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Monday, August 11th, 2014 | 5,769 views

Rejection has always been a part of being a writer, of being an artist. There is something heroic in the idea of the writer who persists in the face of crushing rejection, and it’s perhaps why famous writers seem to love talking about the rejection they suffered before finally breaking through.

In his book On Writing, Stephen King describes using a railroad spike to pin his numerous rejection letters to the wall. Sylvia Plath’s surprisingly optimistic take on rejection letters was that they “show me I try,” while Isaac Asimov said that they “are lacerations of the soul…but there is no way around them.” Writers bond over rejection like soldiers in trenches. In “The Eleventh Draft,” an essay published in a collection of the same name, novelist and short story writer Chris Offutt describes his goal as an MFA student at the University of Iowa of accumulating a hundred rejection letters in a year. Rejection, because it was inevitable, became a badge of honor.

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