writer's rejection

Writers & Potential Failure

For every success—whether literary or financial—most authors can list a half-dozen failures. Failure is a part of the process. Learning what your weaknesses are is a step toward refining your craft. Have the courage to keep writing.

quotation The notion of submitting anything to a magazine filled me with terror. A stranger would read my precious words, judge them deficient, and reject them, which meant I was worthless. A poet friend was so astonished by my inaction that he shamed me into sending my stories out. My goal, however, was not publication, which was still too scary a thought. My goal was a hundred rejections in a year. I mailed my stories in multiple submissions and waited eagerly for their return, which they promptly did. Each rejection brought me that much closer to my goal—a cause for celebration, rather than depression. writer quote —Chris Offutt

quotation Failure? I never encountered it. All I ever met were temporary setbacks.  writer quote  —Dottie Walters

quotation I made a modest goal, that I would be published by the time I was 70 in a little magazine, a good little magazine like Grand Street, and so that was a serious goal. And it was not an impossible goal. I think a lot of people get discouraged because they say, “I’m going to start writing fiction, and I’ll be published in a year, and then every single problem will be solved.” I was happy in life anyway, so I didn’t need writing to solve anything. I wanted the writing because it was deepening.  writer quote  —Amy Tan

quotation Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. writer quote —Theodore Roosevelt

quotation Keep on beginning and failing. Each time you fail, start all over again, and you will grow stronger until you have accomplished a purpose…not the one you began with perhaps, but one you’ll be glad to remember. writer quote  —Anne Sullivan Macy

quotation Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. writer quote  —Thomas Edison

quotation I heard a preacher say recently that hope is a revolutionary patience; let me add that so is being a writer. Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up. writer quote  —Anne Lamott

quotation  Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.  writer quote  —Ray Bradbury

quotation Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.  writer quote  —Henry Ford

quotation A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.  writer quote  —Richard Bach

quotation Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.  writer quote —Winston Churchill

quotation We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.  writer quote —Ernest Hemingway

quotation Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that’s the whole art and joy of words. writer quote  —C.S. Lewis

quotation Nothing more horrible, no failure of nerve more acute, than to be a writer and not write, to never write, perhaps, to stop, to decide to stop, not to hope for writing or want it, to let go of writing, to swear off it like drugs or sex with the wrong party, or some other terrible compulsion that will finally tear one apart. writer quote  —Jayne Anne Phillips

A Word on Book Reviews

A negative review of your work doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It means someone has a different opinion than you, your agent, and your editor. Maybe there’s a grain of truth in it, maybe not. Consider that those who have gone before you have received their share of bad reviews. Perhaps you agree with some of the critics quoted below. Time, too, has weighed in. Time has proved them wrong.

“Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin bone.” —Mark Twain on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

“Of Dicken’s style it is impossible to speak in praise. It is jerky, ungrammatical and created by himself in defiance of rules … No young novelist should ever dare to imitate the style of Dickens.” —Anthony Trollope on Charles Dickens

“Nothing but a pack of lies.” —Damon Runyon on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

“Never have I read such tosh. As for the first two chapters, we will let them pass, but the third, the fourth the fifth the sixth — merely the scratchings of pimples on the body of the boot—boy at Claridges.” —Virginia Woolf on James Joyce’s Ulysses

“Walt Whitman is as unacquainted with art as a hog with mathematics.” —London Critic on Walt Whitman

“How a human being could have attempted such a book as the present without committing suicide before he had finished a dozen chapters, is a mystery. It is a compound of vulgar depravity and unnatural horrors.” —The Examiner on Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

“A glorified anecdote.” —H.L. Mencken on The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

In his book On Moral Fiction, John Gardner commented on the works of his contemporaries. The distilled version from BookReview takes down seven writers in one paragraph: William Gass is interesting but wrong, John Barth is well-meaning but trivial, Donald Barthelme is clever but enfeebled, Kurt Vonnegut’s novels “have the feel of first-class comic books,” Saul Bellow is “actually not a novelist at heart but an essayist disguised as a writer of fiction.” “Bad art is always basically creepy; that is its first and most obvious identifying sign. Warhol. Philip Roth.”

Gardner throws more stones in a New York Times interview:

“John Updike doesn’t revise enough. He feels he’s got to publish a book a year. Again and again he brings out books that don’t say what he means them to say. And you can’t tell his women apart.”

“Malamud is a great artist, an enormously serious writer, but he keeps blowing it in his novels.”

“Joseph Heller writes emotional comedies. He’s smart, so he verges on serious from time to time, but he doesn’t have anything serious to say about good and evil.”

A bad review? You’re in good company.

Written by The UnNovelist
The Unnovelist