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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Rejection Rocks! A discussion on the blessing of failure.

Rejection bites, right? Well, maybe not completely. I remember the early rejections I received on my first novel. Ouch!

Years later, the no thanks don't quite have the same sting. I've learned enough to know this business is very subjective. In the early days though a rejection of my work, felt like a rejection of myself.

I can look back now and thank God that my first manuscript did not sell first go round. It needed work. It was the best piece of writing I was capable of at the time, but I still had much to learn.

I would be mortified today if the early draft of that book had made it to bookshelves. I'm a much better writer today and my manuscript is a much better piece of writing. So my rejections back then were truly a blessing. Though you couldn't tell me that then.

Here are two antedotes from other writers. One from the very well known and respected Randy Ingermanson, who is multi-published and award winning...

The other from author (Randy) R.K. Mortenson. Here's the cover for his brand new fantasy. We'll be reviewing it soon on the site. (I have received permission from both authors to post these).

R.K. Mortenson:

In 2003 the Christian Writers Guild announced a contest called "Operation First Novel." The prize? A $50,000 advance and a publishing contract with Tyndale House. I saw the ad and I joined the Guild so that I could enter. I was a Navy chaplain working in Okinawa, and I needed more time to work on my novel. With my wife's blessing I took five days of leave and went to a resort on the island. On one of my walks along the East China Sea I carved "$50,000" in the damp sand with a stick. I knew I was going to win this contest, and my golden writing career would be launched.I submitted the manuscript in late January. In February we moved to Florida. Sometime in June, 2004, I came across a list of 20 "semi-finalists" for the contest. Semi-finalists? After pouring over the list and peering between its lines, I fell into a funk. I had failed, and I felt I was finished.

There was a writers conference less than two months away. My confidence in my contest entry, a dark novel of suspense, was shattered. Something led me to dig out a story I'd written nine years earlier called "Landon's Tale." A children's fantasy. I rewrote it, doubling its length. I pitched it. And now I'm working on a third Landon Snow book…under contract and on a deadline.God's timing is right. His plan is perfect. Merry Christmas.Randy (R. K.) Mortenson

Randy Ingermanson:

As I've noted before on this loop, it took me 12 years from the day I started typing my first novel until I saw a novel of mine on the shelves of a store. And the one in the store wasn't my first novel. It wasn't my second either. Or my third. Or my fourth. Or my fifth. It was, if I haven't lost count, #6.Truth to tell, #3 almost made it. It made the rounds for 3 or 4 years. Came close three times at Thomas Nelson. I prayed SO HARD that the book would get published. It never did.I'm so very glad now.

#3 was not a bad book, but it wasn't something I'd be proud of now.

When #6 came out, it was at a level that I can still be proud of today, and I think I'll never feel sorry that my name is on the cover of that book.

The only thing worse than not getting published is getting published too soon.

So writers, anyone want to share their story on how God has blessed them through rejection?

(BTW, the rest of the week is jam-packed with author interviews with Athol Dickson, Jill Nelson and Jill Stengl!)


  1. Nice encouragement.

    Someone told me once that seeing what I wrote a year ago and gagging was a good sign. It means I've learned and grown. Tossing my first novel, was one of the smarter things I've done. If the beginner me didn't even think about shopping it, it must have stunk real bad. (BTW - I'm not suggesting that any of you toss your first novels.)

    Rejection of stories and articles has been like sandpaper - and I want to shine and be as good as I can be. So sand away.If you want to develop thicker skin - get thee to a good critique group.

  2. Thanks Kelly. Boy this rejection discussion got so much hype we may have to republish it. :) Guess rejection might not rock afterall?

  3. Great post! Thanks, Gina and Randy-squared.

    This is such a relevant topic for writers. I think it's very important, because most beginning writers don't even think about how their first novel could be anything but perfection in written form (or, uh, at least, that was me).

    Most beginning writers don't realize that one day they might be incredibly glad to have received a polite form letter rather than one saying: "Bury this manuscript in the darkest corner of Lithuania and never unearth it again."

    I cringe when I think about MY first novel. Actually, it's my second novel, because my first was when I was sixteen and HOOBOY we don't want to go there. I knew how bad it was by the time I was seventeen.

    Anyway, second novel still has that shivering cringe factor, two years after conception.

    Besides, now that I've gotten a few manuscripts under my belt, I understand things like the struggle to push through the last half of the book, the insecurities before starting the next one. I can't imagine how stressful it would have been to have my first ms published and to go through this emotional rollercoaster while under deadline. {blood-curdling scream worthy of Friday the Thirteenth sequel twenty-seven}


  4. So true. I have to admit, I'd hate to have a book pubbed and then look back at it and cringe. But the thing is, if we are continually improving our craft even after publication, we are going to look back at book number one and see what could be better. I guess the idea is to be good enough so that when we do look back, we don't cringe, but maybe say "Not bad for where I was at the time."

  5. This is a very timely post (God is good) because I just received my first rejection last weekend. But in a way, I was kinda' happy because since I sent it out in August, I've learned tons about POV that I would like to incorporate. So I'm off to rewrite before any more submissions!

  6. Thanks girls. I think of rejection as a right of passage. Though there are a few who've managed to get contracts without rejection, that's very unusual and often we hear they'd rather have not had a title in print.

    Bonnie, welcome to the club! You're one rejection letter closer to publication!


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