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, November 11, 2011

Hi, My Name Is Jenness And I'm...

...a reject.

Yes. I totally just admitted that on the internet.

It started as early as first grade, when a story I wrote and illustrated for a class contest didn't win first. In fact, it didn't even get a gold star for effort. And I'd been thoroughly convinced I was top dog in the writing world already!

It continued through high school and college, where short story after short story came back with a "No, thank you" or just a box marked with an x to tell me what I'd done wrong. I received so many, I used to post my rejection letters on a corkboard I jokingly called my Wall of Shame.

Next came the emails and letters from agents after I finished my first novel. Oh, and the bad contest scores. The things we could say about them!

But Beth suggested writing about something I'm thankful for as a writer, and that bulletin board I used to keep of rejection letters is somewhere near the top of that list. Here's why:

1. The rejections were proof that I was writing something! I was actively working toward my dream of being published. I was paying my dues.

2. I needed it! Some of those rejections kept stories from seeing the light of day that would have eventually embarrassed me. Severely. Some saved a good storyline from being wasted in a slush of prose that needed oh so much improvement.

3. I could see evidence of growth in my writing through many of the responses. I could learn from what wasn't working for the editor/agent, or I could take heart when they indicated they were interested but just didn't have a slot for me at that point. (I don't know if he still does it, but Steve Laube used to include letter grades in many of his rejection letters. Quite handy!)  

4. They helped me to learn to trust God's plan and His timing. One of the very few times I allowed a rejection letter to discourage me was when it looked possible that an agent might sign me on. I wasn't sure we were the right fit, but it would have been just in time for Christmas. And wouldn't that be an incredible present? An agent? But God had someone else in mind, and His plan is perfect. Isn't it so much easier to not stress about rejections when you know He loves you and knows what is best for you?

5. Rejections give you a great excuse to eat chocolate, and who isn't thankful for that?

Are there any particular rejections you've received that you're especially grateful for?


  1. Great post, Jenness. Rejection letters are God's way of telling us it's not our time yet. :) I believe every writer needs to experience rejection letters.

    I received a letter grade from Steve Laube--a B+. I'm thankful for that because it forced me to strive for an A.

    I remember crying when I received a rejection letter from Krista Stroever at Love Inspired (Steeple Hill at that time). She said my writing wasn't strong enough. I didn't know what that meant, so I worked hard to find out.

    Rejection letters sting. I allow myself a day to mourn when I receive one. Then I take the nuggets of wisdom from it, put it away, and work harder to make my next submission even better.

  2. I am so thankful for every rejection letter I've gotten on my WIP. Maybe not at the time, but now, looking back I realize the story simply wasn't ready. And if it had been published...I cringe.
    Great post, Jenness!

  3. Great post, Jenness. I haven' received a rejection letter, yet, about my wip. It's not ready to send out.

    But, I'm thankful that I've been privy to a number of blog posts that will help me keep the right perspective when that happens. Thanks for sharing your thankful list. I am going to refer back to it when my first letter(s) come.

    Thanks, Jenness!

  4. Jenness, I like #5 best! ;-)

    I love the silver lining you found by taking something negative and turning it into a positive.

    I'm thankful for your great post!

  5. When I got my first rejection, I decided it was proof that I was a "real" writer. We all get them.

  6. I'm not sure who came up with the term "rejection letter" but it stinks.
    I much prefer to think of them as a "not at this time" letter - making me think, there's always a "next time" coming.
    Like Jenness, I firmly believe there is only one perfect time and that's "GOD'S TIME".
    I've received plenty of the first letters and am still holding onto HIS promise to give me the desire of my heart- that desire HE planted - to get what stories HE'S given me to the readers HE'S preparing to read them.
    Thanks, Jenness for the good you've seen in the unpleasant!

  7. JP, loved this post and was slightly convicted by the "you are actually writing" part! Thanks for sharing and reminding me God's timing is better than my own, but I need to be faithful with the time and talents he's given me!

  8. Just one of the reasons I like you, Jenness!
    I like to call rejection letters "regrouping letters."
    I get 'em and I regroup.
    But, yeah, underneath all that "I can be positive about this" attitude, there's a feeling of rejection.
    You have to face it.
    Deal with it.
    And don't let it stop you.

  9. Great post, Jenness, I got to say that my experience with Christian publishing editors is that they go out of their way to be encouraging. I can't speak for the letters my agent has received on my behalf, but of the ones I've received personally, only one was an obvious form letter. The rest were so encouraging, I didn't feel rejected at all...maybe I was just naive! LOL

  10. Fun & Encouraging. I'm thankful I got a rejection long ago for one graduate study program overseas that I think would have taken me the wrong direction. Thanks, Jenness.

  11. I'm thankful for the rejections I received for a series of children's books. I collaborated with another author and with her input, the series "sings" - and was published earlier this year. God's "wait" was just what I needed!