Thursday, September 30, 2010

On Rejection

ROSEMARY: The following is an excerpt from's Helthland website.

Lab participants who watch as photos of them are rejected — even if they know the rejection is being done by a computer — experience not just emotional but physical distress. Your levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, fluctuate when you think you're being rejected. It turns out that all of us are the nerdy kids on Glee: pathetic and weak when Sue Sylvester comes around, even if we know she's a robot dressed in a sweatsuit.
This week a new study shows that these physical effects go further: rejection actually stops your heart. Thus the clever title of the new Psychological Science paper: "The Heartbrake of Social Rejection." The authors of the study — a three-member group led by a University of Amsterdam psychologist named Bregtje Gunther Moor — measured beat-by-beat heart rate changes in 22 students as they received either rejection or acceptance of portrait photos they had submitted. When hooked up to electrocardiogram monitors, the students reliably showed a skip in their hearts when they thought they had been rejected by someone shown their photos.

Read more:

ROSEMARY: I hope they didn't spend too much on this study.

I was fortunate and only got a few rejections before my current book deal, so I don't know how I'd have handled the 36 or so "no-thank-yous" James Patterson supposedly got before his first book was accepted for publication. But the reality is, as writers, most of us experience rejection on a regular basis - agents, editors and readers make their choices every day and frequently - gasp - they may reject us. There's not much I can do about it if an editor is looking for the next PEN or Booker Prize winner (I write genre fiction.) Or a reader is in the mood for a vampire book (I write traditional mysteries.)

There are plenty of best-selling books or enormously popular movies and television shows that I don't particularly love. And that's what I tell myself every time I'm on the receiving end of a rejection. Hey, not everyone is going to love you. Chaque a son gout. Jan, did I get that right?

What do you tell yourself?


  1. I just tell myself, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!" The words ring out through the oven I have my head stuffed in.

  2. What was that??? Saturday Night Live? Al Franken..if so, it worked for him. So get the head out of the oven (nice image though. Very Bye Bye Birdie)
    There are zillions of agents. A writer friend, Jane Cleland, says "you just have to find the one who's looking for you."

  3. Last year I sent my first book out to the universe and it got rejected five times. Three agents and two from the same publisher but different lines. I thought they just didn't get it.

    Now, reading and editing that book, I would have rejected it.

    For me, the rejections are part of my learning curve. There was so much I did wrong...but a lot of things I did right.

    Here's to book two hoping it finds a sweeter reception.

  4. After collecting well over a hundred rejections for multiple manuscripts, I guess I developed a thick skin. I definitely proved I was stubborn, because I kept trying until I got it right.

    But as for the physiological response, I still flinch when I see a plain white envelope in my mail box (which tells you how long ago I was submitting--pre-email).

  5. I've got one of my rejections on my bulletin board, but right next to it is the email I got from my agent. It's a balance. Anyone remember that old television commercial.."sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't"

  6. I think I may have told this story before... but I actually got rejected by an agent on a book that I HADN'T sent her that was already published.

    I have no idea what was going on in that office.

  7. I once got an article rejected AND accepted by the same editor at the same magazine. When I teach, I like to read from my rejection letters.

    Rejection sucks. Unkind or even just thoughtless words in general, and particularly in print, make me cringe . Wish I had a thicker skin but I don't. You can say chacun à son goût all you like (it's fun!) but it still stings.

  8. I read from my rejection letters in classes, too. In rejecting PRIME TIME, one said: "I like her writing, does she do non-fiction?"

    Another said: "What wonderful writing! We couldn't turn the pages fast enough. Unfortunately we don't have room on our list."

    (I've just realized I know these quotes by heart, which tells you something. And "by heart" seems somewhat approrpiate.)

    I TRY not to be sad. I TRY to think: that just means "yes" is around the corner.

    "Easier said than did," as my mom says.

    Lynn, crossing fingers!

  9. On the time of rejection you get so much disperssed that you love kicking out that interviewer.

    Still you don't get the rejection stuff on the spot

  10. I try to think of rejections as momentos of being in the game when so many others speak of playiing but never even show up.

  11. I was really encourage to meet to your blog. Thanks for supporting to me. I really like to meet to your blog.

  12. If you have abilities to their. It will be a good opportunity to you that it will help you to make a good enrollment. No one can reject to you.

  13. Mainly i love their pics of all these celebrities. All she's are looking nice and beautiful.