I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rejections, Re-directions & Timing

"Rejections slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil--but there is no way around them." --Isaac Asimov


I am fascinated by Kathryn Stockett's writing journey. Her first novel, The Help, is a New York Times bestseller and has been adapted as a movie. That alone is noteworthy. But the story behind the story is just as compelling because Stockett sold after receiving 60 rejections for her manuscript. You can read how she never gave up here .

Another author who wouldn't quit is Julie Lessman, a Ponderer guest, who received more than 40 rejections for her first manuscript. She's not sure of the actual number, since she received rejections even after she'd sold her novel, A Passion Most Pure, which won the American Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Book of the Year.
Yet, Stockett's and Lessman's rejections are small potatoes compared to those of Literary Giants Agatha Christie and Jack London. In a span of four years, Christie, received 500 rejections before landing a publishing deal, and London collected over 600 rejections before selling a single story.


Those authors wouldn't quit and went on to achieve great success. However, sometimes an author must put a manuscript aside in order to become published. Acting on advice gleaned from 76 rejections, Jasper Fforde abandoned his previous works and wrote
The Eyre Affair, which immediately became a New York Times bestseller.

Robin Miller, who writes as Robin Caroll, had to put aside the manuscript she calls "the story of her heart," the story her critique group and agent loved, in order to become a selling author.
Timing. (Anyone know a synonym for timing beginning with an "r?")

Prolific author Kim Vogel Sawyer couldn't sell her
"Gentle Stories of Hope." But God continued to inspire her with ideas, so she kept writing. Suddenly, bonnet stories were in demand and Sawyer was ready to ride the wave to the top with her manuscripts. Now, the award-winning author has sold more than 21 and contributed to other works.

On rejections, Sawyer says, "One quote that seems to resonate with me comes from Comte de Buffon: 'Never think that God's delays are God's denials. Hold on; hold fast; hold out. Patience is genius.' If God calls us to write, there's a reason, so keep plowing forward--write, write, write, and wait for His doors to open."

Though I've wanted to be a selling author for years, I didn't know the tragedies and heartaches I'd have to endure. I don't think I could have handled the stress of a writing career, while I was widowed and raising a family, especially with a special-needs child. But God knew my circumstances, so I trust His timing for my career.

Where are you on the writing spectrum? Should you keep plugging away on your manuscript? When should you abandon one project to concentrate on a different one? Should you keep honing your craft and wait patiently for God's doors to open for a writing contract?

~Roxanne Sherwood


  1. Great examples of writers who wouldn't give up. For me, it's become much easier to wait since I've realized my writing career isn't in my hands. It's in His and in His timing. My part is to write as unto Him. He'll open the door at the exact right moment.

    Great post, Roxanne!

  2. I may not have enough rejection letters to paper a wall, I do understand about timing and waiting. I started the story of my heart over a decade ago, shelved it several times and rewrote it several times. Finally, God whispered, "It's time."

    Waiting is hard. And frustrating. And discouraging. But when it happens, watch out because you will be in for the ride of your life!!

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  4. Right after I read your post, Roxanne, I found my Friday devotion, He said, She said, in my email box. Talk about great minds working together...Eddie Jones was talking about rejection too and I thought his post was a good complement to yours. Here's the link if you want to check it out.


  5. Very well said, Roxanne. It's easy to become discouraged when the rejection pile grows deeper, but when we remember to trust in His timing, we'll keep pressing on.

  6. Few of the really great things in life come easily.

  7. Hi, everyone! Thanks for your comments!

    Pat, I enjoyed the He Said/She Said devotion but a part of your link was cut-off. It's worth reading, so folks use this link:


    Lisa, I know how you've waited, worked hard, waited some more. I'm so happy that your time has arrived!

    Brenda, Though waiting is hard, it's easier when you know you're trusting in the One who has your best interest at heart. But other writers on the same journey help too. Thanks for stopping by. I wish you the best!

    Hi, Terri! You're right. If it came too easily, we wouldn't appreciate the success nearly as much. Great to hear from you!

  8. Roxanne, I always come away uplifted after reading your posts. :) Writing is the most difficult thing I've ever attempted. I loved this quote:
    'Never think that God's delays are God's denials. Hold on; hold fast; hold out. Patience is genius.'
    I am still in the early stages of my first wip, so I haven't had to set aside anything yet. I am pondering all these things though, to encourage me as I continue in my journey. :)
    Thanks for sharing this post today!

  9. Whoa, awesome post, Roxanne! I had no idea about the history of rejection for some of those authors. Such a great reminder about God's timing...and I loved that quote: "Never think that God's delays are God's denials." Awesome!

  10. Jeanne & Melissa,

    I'm glad you were encouraged!

    We like to think how hard it is to become published today. Robin Lee Hatcher has always argued that it's not more difficult now. When I read that Agatha Christie and Jack London persevered through hundreds and hundreds of rejections, I'm encouraged too.

  11. Awesome, Rocky.

    Really, truly awesome.

  12. This is such an encouraging, motivating post--giving us all a glimpse at other writers' journeys. Thanks, Roxanne.
    I've experience rejections--and had to shelve a project. That was difficult because I put my heart into that book.
    But then the door opened for another book to be contracted. So I've walked through that door--and am enjoying the journey. It's an unexpected bend in the road, for sure. And I wouldn't be here without the help of others--yours, included.

  13. I was sure I'd read Fri.'s post but obviously had not. This really is a great post, so encouraging--one I'll save and quote. Thanks so much, Roxanne!

  14. I loved this post. We all like to hear about an author's success, but there is something about hearing the struggles that encourages me even more. Thank you!