My recent blog about rejections drew so many responses I realize that being rejected is a common and demoralizing trauma. For those who didn’t see the blog, I wrote about being in a seemingly unending slump, where the stories I submitted to editors were reaping a monotonous chorus of “No.” It helped my morale to vent about how normal this is for writers and how many famous authors have suffered countless rejections.

But life is ironic. Less than an hour after I’d posted my rejections blog, I had an acceptance! The seemingly unending drought had ended – at least for the time being.

I’m writing this sequel for several reasons. One, obviously, is to encourage all of you not to give up whatever it is you’re reaching for. If you hold on long enough, the weather might change. However, my second purpose  is to point out that  persistence isn’t the total answer. Very often what’s called for is flexibility.

So let me take you on a journey about my oft-rejected piece. It tells the true story of one of the most difficult experiences I’ve ever had. My husband had died three years earlier. I had promised him that I’d make the trip to Italy we had expected to have together. I set out with enormous trepidation since I’d never traveled anywhere alone and it would be my first time in Italy. In some crazy show of bravado  I arranged to go  totally on my own, not even as part of a tour group. By a lucky (?) coincidence a friend was going to Italy at the same time with his girlfriend and he invited me to join them. Since their itinerary was different from my plans, this meant missing Florence. But I figured companionship was worth everything.

Or was it? The story I later wrote about this trip revolved around the choice I had to make when, after the first few days,  I realized that for a variety of reasons this was no longer my trip. It was theirs. The decision about whether to cling to them or go alone to a strange city where I didn’t know a soul was agonizing.

I wrote about this as a short story – and it was turned down 29 times. For a few years it languished in my files, until I decided that sometimes you have to be willing to try a new approach.  Since my story was true, why not forget the fiction category and submit it as what’s termed “Creative Nonfiction”? (As opposed to Uncreative…?) Again, it was turned down – several times.

It then occurred to me that I could look further afield. Acceptance finally came from a British publication. This highlights another way of not giving up. Sometimes a rejected story finds a home overseas or in hospitable Canada.

What we all need is skin that isn’t too thin, the strength to keep persisting, and the willingness to approach any problem from a totally different angle. This isn’t just true for writing of course. Persistence and flexibility are necessary ingredients for job-hunting, love affairs, troubled friendships, attempts to communicate with your teenager, ad infinitum. But that’s for another blog,


BOOKS: COME and GO – available through, WIDOW’S WALK –; TURNING TOWARD TOMORROW –, TEN WOMEN OF VALOR and ROLE PLAY- available through; also Amazon Kindle.



My e-mails are very busy these days, but not for a desirable reason. I’m getting an unending stream of rejections from agents and editors. The manuscript of my new novel, alone, has so many dismissals I’ve tossed it into a desk drawer. And I don’t want to count how many times my stories have been turned down by magazine editors. In the past I could surf rejections, confident positIve responses were somewhere on the horizon. But now the steady chorus of “No,” has worn on me. The problem with rejections of your work is that they can make you feel as if you’re a total failure.

I’m aware this is standard fare for writers. It’s some comfort to learn that Stephen King was rejected 30 times, not for some youthful failure , but for “Carrie “– the book that launched his career! Joseph Heller was in a “Catch-22” with exactly 22 rejections for the book whose title has become a byword. Then there’s “Chicken Soup for the Soul “ – 144 rejections. Author Jack Canfield’s recipe is to “reject rejection and just say, ‘Next’”!

There are scores of other examples. So I tell myself I’m in good company. It’s just that it’s a company I don’t enjoy being with. In a masochistic mood, I looked up synonyms for rejected. Unfortunately, what leaped out at me was one of my own traumas: for rejected also means “abandoned.”
Googling the Internet for a more promising word I discovered rejectionist. That doesn’t mean a callous editor, but “one who objects.” I will make that my secret self! Now when a manuscript gets the usual “doesn’t fit our needs,” I’ll object with a lofty rejectionist reply: “Your response doesn’t fit my needs.”

Of course, I won’t actually deliver that message– but it may give me strength to keep sending out my stories. Does this never-give-up attitude really help? One answer comes from the author of the aptly titled – “The Help.” Kathryn Stockett kept trying through 60 rejections. “What if I had given up at sixty?” she asks. For it was her 61st attempt that succeeded in attracting an agent.

We might also decide to take charge and self-publish our work, as even Proust did when he’d had enough of rejection. A current author, Lisa Genoiva, endured 100 rejections of her manuscript. She finally gave in and self-published. Then in a movie-style ending,that version was picked up and reprinted by Galley Books (subsidiary of Simon and Shuster). What was this fortunate book? “Still Alice”! As we know, it had a movie-style scenario, for real, as a profitable film..

So I’m taking out my manuscrirpt and submitting (terrible word) to agents again. There’s no guarantee that my book will be published, but it sure won’t if it’s kept in a drawer!

P.S. You don’t have to be a writer to find that persistence can pay off. Don’t give up trying to make contact with your adolescent, for instance! Keep demanding a raise from that elusive boss, or insisting on equal treatment with men, or any other effort that will put you on the winning side– no matter how many stubborn times it takes!

BOOKS: COME and GO – available through, WIDOW’S WALK –; TURNING TOWARD TOMORROW –, TEN WOMEN OF VALOR and ROLE PLAY- available through and; also Amazon Kindle.