Thought Catalog
May 31, 2015

10 Great Writers Discuss What It’s Like Dealing With Literary Rejection

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What is the issue?

1.  Neil Gaiman

“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”

2. Barbara Kingsolver

“This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.”

3. J.K. Rowling

“Often, you have to fail as a writer before you write that bestselling novel or ground-breaking memoir. If you’re failing as a writer – which it definitely feels like when you’re struggling to write regularly or can’t seem to earn a living as a freelance writer – maybe you need to take a long-term perspective.”

4. Sylvia Plath

“I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.”

5. Kurt Vonnegut

“Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.”

6. Harper Lee

“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.”

7. Saul Bellow

“I discovered that rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgment and to say in his heart of hearts, ‘To hell with you.’“

8. Rebecca Skloot

“Here’s this story that’s important for me to tell. When I have something to fight for, I fight really hard. No one’s going to tell me I can’t publish something.”

9. Ann Patchett

“Coming back is the thing that enables you to see how all the dots in your life are connected.”

10. Anita Shreve

“To ward off a feeling of failure, she joked that she could wallpaper her bathroom with rejection slips, which she chose not to see as messages to stop, but rather as tickets to the game.” TC mark