Thursday, November 9, 2017

Why My Rejection List Is Not Long Enough, by Kell Andrews

I showed my 12-year-old daughter my rejection folder. I was trying to encourage her as she tried out for the seventh-grade volleyball team for the first time, and she was afraid she wouldn't make the team. We scrolled through the email folder —hundreds of messages.

Thank you for your submission
Thank you for your patience
No reflection on your work
No reflection on you
I don't feel passionate
I don't feel connected
Not a fit at this time
Not a fit for my list
Sorry for the delay
Sorry for the news

In the not-long-ago Old Days, writers kept files of paper rejections, scrawled and typed and stuffed in SASES. Sometimes they burned them. Sometimes they wallpapered rooms with them.

I keep my email rejections in a file. I have so many that when I select the "move to folder" option for any email, my email program helpfully suggests the Rejections folder.

And these are only the responses I've actually received. There's no way to keep the no-responses rejections, except in the spreadsheet I use to track them. Except in how it feels to have the hope of a submission just fade away with no word, over and over. But I keep submitting, over and over.

When my daughter saw my rejection folder, she was sad for me.

"Sorry," she said, the word that was in just about every message in the file. The list seemed endless, but really it just went back to 2008.

"I'm not sorry," I said. "I wish the list were longer. I wish there were more. I wish I started earlier."

My rejection list will only get longer because I'm still writing and still submitting. No matter how successful a writer is, rejections keep coming, although they may be farther apart and they may be about different things.

It's been 11 years since I decided to really try to achieve this writing dream I'd always had, nine since I submitted my work. I've sold some books and stories along the way, but I wish my rejection list were 10 years longer, or 20.

My daughter did not make the volleyball team. Hers is a story of rejection so far, the first of many that are inevitable. I hope there are triumphs mixed in. There will be.

Because she has started.


  1. Thank you, Kelly. This is profound and powerful, and beautifully expressed.

  2. This is a great way of looking at it, Kelly. Thanks!

  3. That's the perspective that we need to have! (But so hard to achieve and maintain.) :)

  4. Wonderfully said. I have 50 trad- published books, 100+ articles --- and somewhere over 1,000 rejections. They're not a sign of failure, but of determination and progress.

  5. I love this, thank you so much for sharing it. Seeing rejections in a new light is something every writer needs!


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!