Like all authors I have received more than my fair share of rejection letters. I’m not sure if others who have been rejected multiple times–being illustrators, musicians, or anyone who creates and starts out tender but develops a tough skin–have kept their rejection notices as faithfully as I have. Only now has my librarian/pack rat filing gene been rewarded. At least
in the writing biz, all of us now know that you do not even get a rejection notice anymore. No more, “Dear Author” heartfelt, thanks but no thanks. Now they just tell you that if you have not heard back in six to eight weeks, too bad, move on. My message to kids: be persistent, believe in your self, and do not let anyone side track your dreams.
This message is now part of my presentation where I project copies of rejection letters that were sent to people like Stephen King, John Grishom, JK Rowling, etc. etc. A blessing on Goggle that with simple search terms like you can find hundreds of saved letters from people who have persisted and persevered. As I said, I share many of these letters with kids, but the one that gets their attention and makes them sit up with a great degree of sympathy, was the one I received from a major editor at Cricket Publishing a number of years ago, and one I could never throw away, as hurtful as it was–thank goodness.
In its entirety, I project this letter onto the screen, but then dissolve to the paragraph, in a large, expanded type font, so the kids can easily follow along as I read. I wanted to write to this editor but was sure she would not read my response, being another irate writer with hurt feelings or she would have shared it with her staff for a good read at a local bar, over
drinks for a good laugh. Instead, I wrote an open letter to her, and sent it to SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, an organization of which I am a member) as an article for their monthly magazine, where it went nowhere, as she was a very big, important editor and I’m sure they did not want to step on any toes.
In no way could I have dreamed up with a better way to illustrate the importance of persistence and believing in your self and your abilities. Thanks again to that editor. Your unkindness and lack of civility paid off in ways you will never know.