a few words of advice

…First, now that you tell me I guess I did hurt you pretty much, you didn’t really hurt me, for say, but you embarassed the hell out of me. … Marta, your hair is looks about the same everyday long and blah! And your face, well, you really do need make-up. …some of the things that you wear have been out of date for some decades now! like your scarfs and, gee whiz, just because you are tall doesn’t mean that you have to wear those long vulgar shirts in an assortment of putrid colours! And gosh, a young lady shouldn’t wear her father’s shirts, at least not to school! … For heaven’s sake don’t ever hide your personality (albeit, it could use a lot of changes). … And I never blamed you for what S. did I just made you think I did, it was sort of my way of adding extra torment to your life! … Now, Marta, if you distrust every man just because I do you wrong you are the stupidiest Bitch I every met! … Marta I do want you to know that I don’t hate you, it’s just that I’ve lost all feeling for you. I feel the same way about you as I would towards any other stranger. …I don’t need to be reminded of all we meant to each other, I still remember!

I’ve been looking for letters from my mom. I found this letter instead. The young man who wrote it had been my best friend. He knew everything about me.

9th grade

Being afraid to put your work out into the world to face rejection seems silly. Rejection is going to come in your life one way or another. It isn’t as if an agent is going to point out all your flaws. She just isn’t going to take on your story. Aren’t there other people who can hurt you more?

I’m about to go from working four days a week to working two days a week. Those two new days off I’ll be writing, making art, and sending queries, short stories, whatever, out for rejection. I’ll make less money. I may fail. I may end up not feeling like the stupidest.

But I can take it, right?

This letter probably should be thrown away. But something about the written word, even hatefully written ones, that keeps me holding on to it. So. What is the worst rejection letter you’ve received? And do you keep your rejections or throw them away?

9 thoughts on “a few words of advice

  1. I’ve kept all my hate letters, too. I only have two, maybe three. Rejections, I’ve kept all of them too, even the forms. I think it’s for the same reason I keep the hate from former friends. They’re part of my story, and like you, I can’t stand destroying the written word. One day I’ll probably throw them away…

    1. Luckily I don’t have too much hate mail, but even that is part of the story. I keep rejection letters too. Maybe we can throw them away one day. Or burn them.

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever had that much vitriol and bile spewed at me in letter form except from my wife. In my childhood the people who hated me did so openly and in person. It was a much cleaner process, frankly.

    The worst rejection I’ve ever received came from Marvel Comics back in 1993 when I submitted some pencil work to their talent acquisitions manager. I got tips on how to improve my artwork which I worked on … when I finally stopped tailspinning, crashing and burning.

    The only rejection I’ve received on my written work was pretty kind. The magazine said they didn’t have the space for my story at the time.

    1. From the wife? That must be story. I’ve gotten hate in person, but at least the written word I can keep! ha.

      Hey, if a rejection manages to make you better (improve your craft), then that’s not too bad, is it?

  3. The worst rejections I ever got were over the phone — for non-fiction of all things, after coming thiiiiis close to acceptance, at two really big-deal magazines… within a couple weeks of each other. Not The New Yorker, but in that league. Talk about crushed. That was the first and last time I came that close; all uphill ever after, or at least 20+ years of “after.”

    Personal rejections, well, yeah. In one direction or another. Let’s leave it at that. :). I don’t think I’ve saved either sort, but I’ve got an awful lot of paper following me around and I’m prepared to be surprised.

    1. Oh, rejection early in the game can’t be as bad as rejection when you’re so close. Okay, it may be uphill ever after, but at least you’re moving instead of staying at the bottom.

  4. I don’t have any letters anymore. I kept most things for years, but circumstances got in the way and now I don’t have anything like that. Probably just as well. Having it around always keeps the memory alive, and some memories are better left to die, you know? Look forward, not backward.

    And yes, you can take whatever comes. I think you’re stronger than you give yourself credit for. 🙂

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