Monday, February 1, 2010


My first thought for the title of this entry was “Rejection Sucks”, but then I realized, while true, it’s not a helpful sentiment. My second thought was to not write about today’s letter at all. Throw it in the recycling and move on. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do that.

After reading the letter, I immediately went back to my laptop to continue with my current writing project, but all the energy that had been there had instantly run dry. As a writer, I have to deal with rejection…and I suppose the sooner, the better.

Back in October, I’d put together a grant application package for a juvenile fiction novel idea. It was my first such application and I found the process a tad uncomfortable. First, I had to stop my current projects and complete the requisite forms and outlines for the jury. Creativity had to wait as I focused on meeting all the technical requirements for the grant. More troubling, however, was the feeling that I was essentially begging for money, not much different from a homeless person holding out an upturned baseball cap.

“Spare some change? Feed the writer.”

But, of course, that’s what writers have to do. We’re not well funded professionals like NHL players or plumbers. We take what we can get.

When I found the letter from the British Columbia Arts Council in my mailbox, I didn’t have a good feeling. I tried to pep myself up, recalling the plot ideas I felt would appeal to young readers and the references to the past that would allow timely connections with current society. Still, the envelope was too light—enough for a single-page rejection, rather than a congratulatory letter with forms attached to sign and other sheets providing reminders of deadlines for lucky grant recipients.

It’s amazing how even a form rejection can sting. “I regret to inform you that the jury did not recommend assistance for your project.” Ouch. Of course, they can’t support everyone, but it’s only natural to take the rejection as a clear sign that your writing isn’t good enough. Your writing idea isn’t original or, frankly, it’s boring.

Yikes. Not helpful thinking. And, thus, the title of this blog entry. I must acknowledge that the begging didn’t work. Now it is time to rebound. I could read up on how J.K. Rowling or some other ridiculously successful author received countless rejections, but I really need to get back to my current work. I’ll have to scrimp even more and continue to buy no-name tomato soup, but my dream to succeed as a writer remains. I hope to one day look back and remember my time as a starving writer with the kind of sweetness and nostalgia that comes when one is far removed from harshness that comes in the midst of the struggle.

I should be so lucky.

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