“Not to mince words, Mr. Epstein, but we don’t like your boys’ sound. Groups are out; four-piece groups with guitars particularly are finished…The Beatles have no future in show business.”
— Decca Records Executive, 1962
Death. Taxes. And, if you are a writer, rejection letters. Life holds a few inevitabilities. Unpleasant as they may be, you have to accept them. Of course, I try to do the Pollyanna thing and tell myself that these unpleasantries are the flip side of success – if you live, you have to die. You only pay taxes because you do, in fact, have money. And only those who try to achieve, those who create and submit and hold themselves out for judgment, get to be rejected. I tell myself that my RWA PRO pin is not a symbol of rejection, but of having succeeded. I have actually written a book. (More than one, actually). I have taken the incredibly audacious step of sending it to agents and publishers, because I really think it is worthy of being read. And as a result of those submissions, I have been rejected.
I am not saying that I will ever be successful. I may not get published. I may just keep writing these my stories and no one else will ever like them. But I have to keep telling myself that rejection by an industry expert does not necessarily invalidate my belief in my stories. Because let’s look at the flip side of those expert opinions. Every agent and publisher faces something as inevitable as a writer’s rejection letters: what I call “The Regretted Rejection.” Remember, Sylvia Plath may have had to read that rejection letter that said “’There certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice.” But she only had to read that once. The editor that wrote it got to see it become famous for its lack of perception and understanding. So let’s give a moment of thought to the experts – like us, they send out their best work, and hope to heck that they turn out to have gotten it right.
But it sure does make those of us who get the rejection letters feel better when we hear how colossally wrong someone got it. You can tell yourself that one day Google will list one of your letters as a Regretted Rejection, that everyone will say, “OMG, can you believe So-and-so told her that her ms ‘didn’t sweep me away.’ Shows how wrong people can be, doesn’t it?”
Today is the beginning of what I hope to make a regular feature of the blog –Rotten Rejection Remorse will bring you the finest in idiotic decisions by “those who should know.” The quote above is not a literary rejection, but it is one of my favorites. Not only was the expert colossally wrong, it proves that you shouldn’t go with the predicted trends. I’m sure that groups, particularly with guitars, were on the way out – until the Beatles brought them back in. As I tell my friend that writes kind of off the wall paranormals, no one liked boarding schools for wizards until JKR convinced us to be wild about them. Nobody ever heard of glittery vampires till Stephenie told us about them. Don’t worry about what is on the way out, or what is the coming thing. Write your best, believe in yourself, and keep sending those submissions.