'I began to internalise the rejections, to believe in a way I hadn’t when I was younger, that the editors, agents, publishers were right — my work wasn’t good enough; of course they didn’t want it. The rejections began to affect me. They began to fray me.'
'Why is rejection inevitable?’ I eventually came up with my game-changing theory. It’s called the Rejection is Actually an Essential Part of the Process theory. I’m aware that the name needs some work.'
'I was determined to grow a thicker skin and get over the pain of rejection from fellow critique-group members — so that I could subject myself to rejection from editors. We were also growing a community to make it feel less personal and lonely.'
'People will tell you to shrug it off, to develop a thick skin. I’m not sure this is entirely helpful. While it’s true that most writers get better at receiving negative feedback, to have too hard a skin can be synonymous with no longer caring about your work.'
'For the entirety of my twenties, I was rejected. I took it seriously. I treated rejection like a job. I worked at it, and I worked hard. The wages were brown envelopes with my own handwriting on them, thumping onto my welcome mat after I’d sent them.'
'It occurred to me to wonder, each time I signed one of these letters, how many disappointed writers would remember my name with hostility, and how many invisible enemies I had made during my tenure as queen of the slush pile. '
'I sent letters and had meetings, and spent a couple of hours with one who I realised, then and there, was definitely the agent for me. The vibe was all so positive — until three weeks later, when she emailed me that she didn’t feel the same. I was crushed. '
'Etymology is important here: rejection means thrown back. You send something out and it’s thrown back. Over the years I’ve come to see that it’s good to understand that rejection of a piece of work isn’t the same as rejection of me as a writer. '
'Rejection is familiar to every writer. It was already familiar to me when I first sent out my book proposal, as it is to so many other freelance journalists who pitch ideas to editors. Sometimes you can learn something from rejection, sometimes you can’t.'
'Years passed and I did not write the novel. During this time my contact with the agent became more sporadic and – from my point of view – more fraught. I had anxiety dreams about him. Sometimes he didn’t reply to my emails. '