- Sylvia Plath: There certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice.
- Rudyard Kipling: I’m sorry Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.
- Emily Dickinson: [Your poems] are quite as remarkable for defects as for beauties and are generally devoid of true poetical qualities.
- Ernest Hemingway (on The Torrents of Spring): It would be extremely rotten taste, to say nothing of being horribly cruel, should we want to publish it.
- Dr. Seuss: Too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.
- The Diary of Anne Frank: The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.
- Richard Bach (on Jonathan Livingston Seagull): will never make it as a paperback. (Over 7.25 million copies sold)
- H.G. Wells (on The War of the Worlds): An endless nightmare. I do not believe it would “take”…I think the verdict would be ‘Oh don’t read that horrid book’. And (on The Time Machine): It is not interesting enough for the general reader and not thorough enough for the scientific reader.
- Edgar Allan Poe: Readers in this country have a decided and strong preference for works in which a single and connected story occupies the entire volume.
- Herman Melville (on Moby Dick): We regret to say that our united opinion is entirely against the book as we do not think it would be at all suitable for the Juvenile Market in [England]. It is very long, rather old-fashioned…
- Jack London: [Your book is] forbidding and depressing.
- William Faulkner: If the book had a plot and structure, we might suggest shortening and revisions, but it is so diffuse that I don’t think this would be of any use. My chief objection is that you don’t have any story to tell. And two years later: Good God, I can’t publish this!
- Stephen King (on Carrie): We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.
- Joseph Heller (on Catch–22): I haven’t really the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say… Apparently the author intends it to be funny – possibly even satire – but it is really not funny on any intellectual level … From your long publishing experience you will know that it is less disastrous to turn down a work of genius than to turn down talented mediocrities.
- George Orwell (on Animal Farm): It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.
- Oscar Wilde (on Lady Windermere’s Fan): My dear sir, I have read your manuscript. Oh, my dear sir.
- Vladimir Nabokov (on Lolita): … overwhelmingly nauseating, even to an enlightened Freudian … the whole thing is an unsure cross between hideous reality and improbable fantasy. It often becomes a wild neurotic daydream … I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.
- The Tale of Peter Rabbit was turned down so many times, Beatrix Potter initially self-published it.
- Lust for Life by Irving Stone was rejected 16 times, but found a publisher and went on to sell about 25 million copies.
- John Grisham’s first novel was rejected 25 times.
- Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) received 134 rejections.
- Robert Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) received 121 rejections.
- Gertrude Stein spent 22 years submitting before getting a single poem accepted.
- Judy Blume, beloved by children everywhere, received rejections for two straight years.
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle received 26 rejections.
- Frank Herbert’s Dune was rejected 20 times.
- Carrie by Stephen King received 30 rejections.
- The Diary of Anne Frank received 16 rejections.
- Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rolling was rejected 12 times.
- Dr. Seuss received 27 rejection letters
Now this…THIS inspires me.
Okay but I feel the same way about Lolita even today
It’s okay if you write fanfic as a way to hone your skills until you are comfortable writing original fic.
It’s okay if you write fanfic because you love fanfic and don’t intend to ever write something original.
It’s okay if you only ever write one fanfic to work through some problems in your real life.
It’s okay if you write fanfic your whole life because you just can’t help falling in love with characters.
There’s no wrong way to write fanfic. THERE IS NO WRONG WAY TO WRITE FANFIC. Write what you love. Love what you write.
Be proud of your accomplishments, not everyone could achieve them.
It’s okay if you STILL write fanfic once you’re comfortable writing original fic.
It’s okay if you like coming up with fic ideas but never actually write them.
It’s okay to play and write the bits you like without making it a long, comprehensive epic.
It’s okay to write a long, comprehensive epic.
And the best part is: no matter what you like to do, there will be someone out there who loves to read it.
If you feel frustrated with your writing or creative life, and find yourself saying things like “I’m ready to give up” or “I don’t want to do this anymore” or “I hate everything I write these days” or “I’ve said everything I have to say,” consider that instead of being finished, you are actually subconsciously doing some very important work in preparation for a grand “leveling up” in a creative way.
As creatives, we often hit plateaus and while some are perfectly happy doing the same thing, most of us aren’t. The same critical edge that enables you to get better and to learn from the mistakes of others, also makes you unhappy with what once satisfied you creatively. You may need to try a new genre, a new age group target, poetry, screenplay, knitting or sculpting. Doing something else isn’t necessarily the same as giving up. For many of us, it’s a new way to get at the creative impulse and express it in a different way.
So if you think you’re ready to give up, consider that you might actually be ready to level up. It might take a few months or a few years, but you may end up doing something completely different and amazing, something you never thought you could do before. And all that frustration is really just energy that your subconscious is waiting to put to use.
Honestly I think one of the things that I find so heartening about Les Mis is the idea that you can be useful to The Cause even if your skillset is not ostensibly one that lends itself to fighting. Often when you have a ragtag team they all have complementary useful skills, whereas Les Mis encourages me to believe that you can be a helpful political activist even if you:
– would really like to do everything gradually and peacefully and are not sure if this is even the right way to be fighting this fight but can’t bear to sit around and do nothing
– are a stammering gentle willothewisp who keeps pot plants and can’t always talk to people
– have to fit your activism around actually working for a living, unlike seemingly everyone else
– are embarrassingly posh and give people the impression you just want to fuck around and have fun
– have poor impulse control and can’t even make a budget
– just have the worst luck in the world and can barely manage your own life and would be homeless if it weren’t for your friends
– are extremely anxious and frequently distracted by your own health concerns
– are a colossal fuckup and human disaster whose mental health problems have led them to let people down again and again
– are the Pontmercy friend, even, and can’t help Pontmercying around and embarrassing everyone
Not everyone has to be Enjolras. You just have to turn up and do your actual best. That’s a really good message to internalise. I think it’s actually helping me to think about doing more activisty stuff, even though I almost never feel like The Best Person for the job.