Rejection/Canadian Copywriter>

In our gadabout around the Internet, we've stopped in on quite a few web sites that deal with rejection. One that's particularly uplifting for writers is

The Rejection Collection

. Check it out! It's chock-a-block with the rejection letters that many writers have received after submitting their epiphanies. The lady who operates the site is a writer herself -- and we might add that she has a great, if not quirky sense of humor (which is..oh...so necessary in the writing business). Included on her site are interviews with many published writers who have endured stacks of rejection letters before finally achieving their goal to get their work published. The site is inspiring, to say the least, because you will realize you are not alone and it will encourage you to keep plugging away...until finally...finally...oh lawdy, lawdy, finally the day will come when the light shines at the end of the tunnel!

Most artists have fragile egos and are naturally sensitive about their work. If you are a professional writer it isn't always easy to come up with an idea that your client appreciates. Sometimes you will find it comes down to sheer guesswork, and even though you have tried your hardest, your writing might still wind up in the trash bin. The secret is not to fly into a tailspin of depression and not to snap back at the people who are paying the bills. If you are writing for a living, remember that there is always someone else who can write better and there is always someone else who will tap you on the shoulder to let you know that it could have been written better. Let's face it. If you are a writer, criticism just naturally comes with the turf! Most professional writers have experienced these put downs. Let's take Marion Crook as an example. She was a renowned children's book author who once wrote: "Everyone believes they have the right and, sometimes the duty, to criticize your writing. You will be told that you have not been clear enough, subtle enough, bold enough, or delicate enough.

You will be told that you have been too bold, too simple, too complex, too "mass market", or "too literary". All this about the same book! You will end up feeling like the poor sod at the county fair who sticks his head through a hole to have pies thrown at him."

At the Canadian Copywriter, we suggest that you just roll with the punches. If you are writing a novel and you are attempting publication, you can expect to get blown off your pins a few times. But don't sweat it! It happens! Consider the big names like Ray Bradbury, the famous science fiction writer. He once told a seminar that over the years, he had been commissioned by Playboy magazine to write articles for the magazine and not one article he ever wrote was published. Frederick Forsyth, the author of Day of The Jackal submitted his novel to over 20 publishing houses and was turned down flat on every occasion. Can you imagine that? A novel filled with terrorist intrigue, high profile political figures and sweaty, nail biting tension and which, when eventually published, won an Edgar award (from the American Mystery Writers Association) in 1972. What in the name of heaven were these publishers thinking (or drinking)?

Okay, so what's the bottom line? The bottom line is that when you are rejected you shouldn't feel bad. You are in good company. But how do you deal with rejection? The easy answer is that you can give up, roll yourself up into a little ball and scream at a world that did you wrong! If you do that, you will never have to deal with rejection again. On the other hand, you will probably have to deal with a rubber room and a bunch of crazy people in white coats coaxing you to open your mouth for your feeding. (although we must warn you that there are a lot of writers out there who have travelled down that same path and came up empty handed). Hey, but sometimes it works! In the Complete Guide to Self Publishing by Tom and Marilyn Ross, you will find a story about an author who gave up on publishing houses, published his novel by himself and sold it door to door. The guy actually turned a profit on his small business venture until one day he hit the motherlode. One of the doors he knocked on belonged to the editor of a magazine who admired his entrepreneurial spirit and hired him on the spot. Of course, that's only one in a million. If the rejections keep piling up and you are quickly beginning to lose your sanity, what do you do? The best thing to do is cry on somebody's shoulder. Get involved with other writers -- a writer's workshop perhaps. You will discover that you are not the only one who has suffered through rejection and that there are plenty of other writers out there who will help you laugh it off.

But, just remember one thing: that rejection happens to every one. Learn from it. Perhaps there's a valid reason for the rejection. Perhaps an editor is busy with another project. Perhaps, as in the Day of the Jackal, the editor can't see the forest for the trees. There may be a million reasons why your work was rejected. Glean from your experience and keep telling yourself that "tomorrow you'll be perfect!" Keep on keeping on! And when you finally are perfect and you sell your work, send an autographed copy of your novel to those who said you would never be able to do it!

In our research, we stumbled upon a passage by Hillary Waugh. She said: "There is one all-important point that is etched upon the Holy Grail of all aspiring writers: "NEVER SAY DIE!". When you write, forget about techniques, critiques, praise, rejection, hope or despair. If you want to be a writer, you must write, write, write and never stop. The prime requisite for the successful writer isn't talent, it isn't desire, it's guts! As long as you keep going, no matter how rocky the road, no matter how many rejections you get, no matter how often you may lose your heart, there still remains the chance of success.

Remember: the moment you stop writing that chance is gone!"

One day, in 1893, a young woman by the name of Beatrix Potter had a problem. She was holidaying with her parents in Scotland and she wanted to cheer up a little boy by the name of Nick Moore who was sick in bed. But what do you say to a five year old? She admits her problem right at the beginning of the letter. My Dear Noel, I don't know what to write to you... But then she invents a wonderful solution:...so I shall tell you a story about four little rabbits whose names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter. They lived with their mother in a sand bar. The story appealed to everything about being a boy such as being bad, eating delicious food, losing your jacket and a chase scene. Beatrix Potter told this story-letter using all the elements that would appeal to a five year old

She also named the hero after her own rabbit, a pet that Noel knew and was very fond of. Best of all, she illustrated the letter with pen and ink drawings. Noel enjoyed the letter and kept it as a keepsake. Seven years later Beatrix Potter wanted to borrow the letter back. She had decided to try to publish the letter as a book. She revised the story by adding a new character, a longer more suspenseful middle section, more drawings and one colored illustration.

She copied it out in a lined exercise book and sent it off to the publisher. Six publishers rejected it! Beatrix was undaunted. She decided to publish her own book by printing 250 copies, then gave them away as Christmas presents. The books proved to be so popular that she had to print more copies and eventually when she was able to show publishers her sales, it wasn't long before Beatrix Potter's book was on the presses. Today, the Tale of Peter Rabbit has been translated into twenty nine languages from Icelandic to Latin and there are Peter Rabbit posters, cups and T-shirts, even a ballet featuring Beatrix Potter's characters.The list of spinoffs goes on and on! So, if the rejection is getting you down, just think of Beatrix Potter. Beatrix Potter found a way. So can you!

A few years ago I jotted down a few stories about inspired thinking just to give me a sunnier disposition on a downcast day. I researched the lives of a few people who were just drifting along, then came up with their epiphany: a singular brilliant idea that took them from rags to riches. I pulled those dusty stories out of my drawer, and I began to read them over again.

Have you ever had a wild idea that you thought just might work, only to forget it later -- perhaps believing that your idea might be just a little too nutty, a little too whacky? Most people do. On the other hand, some people lead their lives completely devoid of ideas and they just keep doing what they're doing until they're finally tucked away down under. How boring! Who knows? With a flash of inspiration from above -- and a little elbow grease from below, you too can make it happen. Consider these people:

George de Mestral was a Swiss Engineer. In his off hours, he enjoyed hunting in the Jura Mountains of France. One day, after a stroll through the woods, he noticed that his wool pants and his dog were covered with burrs. He tried to pull the sticky little critters off, but it didn't matter how hard he tried, the little burrs were there to stay. He was fascinated by the tenacity of these little weeds so he inspected them under a magnifying glass and noticed that each of the small pods had tiny hooks that were caught up in the loops of his woolen fabric. After considering the possibilities, he designed and built a machine that used nylon to duplicate the hooks and loops. He called his new product VELCRO, from the French words VELour and CROchet. The rough side of Velcro is made of tiny, flexible hooks, the fuzzy side, small, soft loops. Of course, we all know what eventually happened. Today Velcro is a multi-billion dollar industry.

William Paul Kellogg of Battle Creek, Michigan was a nutritionist at Battlecreek's sanitarium where he and his brother were involved in developing a nutritious diet for their guests. One day, he left a pot of cooked wheat unattended. It steeped for a few days. When the pair discovered the oversight, they decided to bake the wheat anyway. The wheat, however, didn't cook in nice compact squares. Instead it flaked. So he put the flakes away for the night and decided to chow down on them the next morning -- with a chaser of milk. Et voila!!!!. The brothers liked the taste so much that they decided to try them out on the guests at the sanitarium -- who also liked them. SUDDENLY Kellogg's corn flakes were born. Mr. Kellogg set up his business in Battlecreek and started to do a land-office business but the market was suddenly flooded with competitors. So in order to make sure that everyone knew that his cereal was the original from Battlecreek, Michigan, he signed every box. The rest, my dear friends, is breakfast history!

It was World War II. The U.S. government was running short of synthetic rubber -- so they asked General Electric to come up with some ideas. The company assigned James Wright to the case. After several months of burning the midnight oil in his laboratory, Mr. Wright had a lapse of concentration and dropped a vial of boric acid into a beaker of silicone oil. Inadvertently, Mr. Wright had created a strange goo that stretched and bounced further than conventional rubber. What's more, this "new goo" wasn't affected by extreme temperatures. When he presented the material to the company, they thought it was interesting -- but they had no idea what to do with it. By 1945, this new material was dubbed "nutty putty" and even after General Electric had shared its existence with scientists around the world, still nobody knew of any practical purpose for the material. The stuff offered no new advantages over synthetic rubber. Then along came a man by the name of Peter Hodgson. Peter was unemployed and on welfare! He borrowed $147 and bought the production rights from G.E. then packaged this "Silly Putty" in plastic Easter egg cases (because Easter was coming) and sold it as a kid's toy to local stores. Soon "Silly Putty" was a national sensation. How sensational? When Peter Hodgson died in 1976, his estate was worth well over $140 million! Now that's pretty sensational!

Bette Nesmith was the woman who saved thousands of secretaries from drowning in the office pool! In the early fifties, Bette was in a very difficult situation. Recently divorced, she was in need of a job. -- any kind of job! Hey! We've all been there, right? With a small child to feed (who, by the way turned out to be Michael Nesmith of the Monkees) and rent to pay, she found herself neck-high in debt. Bette needed employment. She needed employment fast! In the early 1950's however, it didn't matter how intelligent a woman was, the only jobs available were as secretaries in steno pools. Bette's typing skills were limited, to say the least, and to make matters worse, the new electric typewriters went wild at the touch of a key, intimidating her when they spat out dozens of unwanted letters. But that was only half of her woes. When she finally got a job and started to work, Bette realized she wasn't quite as nimble on the typewriter as the other secretaries and her bosses were beginning to notice. Desperate for an answer that would help her cover up her mistakes quickly and thereby increase her typing speed, she returned home and put some white tempera waterpaint into a nail polish bottle. The next morning she took the bottle to the office to white out her mistakes. When the other secretaries noticed what she was doing, they asked if they could try her new formula -- and they liked it! Bette kept perfecting her concoction and by 1957 she was so convinced of its efficacy that she submitted a proposal to IBM -- who promptly rejected her idea. Her big break came when the trade publication Office hailed a "paper correction fluid" as one of the year's most promising inventions. Suddenly the orders started pouring in. When the sales inched up to $1 million per year, Bette hired a marketing and advertising agency who gave the white stuff its official name:"liquid paper" and by 1976 the small enterprise she started in her garage was worth a cool $35 million. Eventually, Bette sold her business to Gillette but when she died at the age of 56 she was worth a grand total of (now get this) $50 million!