Monday, April 30, 2007


It's the part of my job I hate the most.

It doesn't matter how graciously you word it or how seasoned a professional you are dealing with. Feelings are always hurt. And then bad blood is generated.

You see, writers (and the agents who took them on) get SO touchy about their work. Not that I blame them at all. When you pour your heart and soul into developing something--especially something creative, which can only be judged very subjectively--it is almost impossible to withdraw and admit that your project is basically unmarketable in the modern bookselling arena.

Proof that no one is immune to hurt feelings: if anyone should know better about creating something unmarketable, it's me, who spends her waking hours trying to delicately cut people down to size. And yet I've fallen into the exact same trap and tried to write/publish a book no one (besides the conscripted) in their right mind would read. And then I was surpised by a series of rejection letters.

Somehow this knowledge/experience still doesn't make tactful rejections a walk in the park. I wonder if they get any easier with practice? Or maybe we just develop more elaborate ways of lying to one another? (My current method: blame Robert the Publisher for bad taste.)


angelle said...

yeah i would definitely be bad at rejecting people...

... i don't take rejection well either.

wow, smart of me that i'm attempting to break into this world with a 99% rejection rate! hahahaha

C. Dappen said...

There's a great story by Lorrie Moore, from her book, Self Help, that is perfect for this kind of thing. The story is, How to be a Writer. The first line of the story says, "First try to be something, anything else." Then it goes on to say, "Fail miserably. If is best if you fail at an early age- say fourteen."

Writing is tough. As a business, I imagine it's even tougher. Rejection is a part of it. As much as nobody enjoys being rejected, it is expected. Writers should be tough. Those are the writers that stick it out and make it. Every writer is going to be rejected. It is up to them to develop thick skins, not up to you to lay it out nicely for them (of course you being nice is much better than somebody being flat out mean). Don't feel bad. If these writer really love what they've written, they won't give up.