When I pitch an idea for an article or an idea, I do it electronically.
In fact, if the editor or agent won’t accept pitches by email I move on. Sure, I might be missing a wonderful opportunity but my feeling is that if that person is not comfortable with electronic submission then I probably won’t have the patience to work with him. It’s a fast paced world out there, if you can’t keep up, move over.
I have long ago given up writing everything out by hand, printing it, making edits, and then re-entering everything. And I’m not even sure we keep envelopes in the house anymore for the obligatory SASE. These days everything I do is directly on my computer. I edit in my head and make my corrections using the keyboard. It’s far more efficient and after decades of doing it this way, it’s how I feel most comfortable.
Electronic writing and submission makes me happy because of its efficiency and it makes the trees happy for the non-usage of paper but it means that I miss out on what is arguably one of the most important rites of passage in writing: the hardcopy rejection slip.
All of the writing greats have stories of their work being rejected. They take great pride in saving those rejection slips in a folder to pull out once they become successful. In fact, here is a list of some of our better books and the amount of times they were rejected:
Auntie Mame, Patrick Dennis (15)
Carrie, Stephen Kng (30)
Chicken Soup for the Soul, Jack Canfeld and Mark Victor Hansen (140)
Diary of Anne Frank (16)
Dr. Seuss books (15)
Dubliners, James Joyce (22)
Dune, Frank Herbert (23)
Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell (38)
Harry Potter book one, J. K. Rowling (9)
Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach (18)
Kon-Tiki, Thor Heyerdahl (20)
M*A*S*H, Richard Hooker (17)
The Peter Principle, Laurence Peter (16)
The Prncess Diaries, Meg Cabot (17)
Watership Down, Richard Adams (26)
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle, (26)
Just think of the beauty in all those rejection slips – “Sorry J.K. Rowling, we don’t think this will attract an audience.”
Those rejection slips become an important part of a writer’s history. It seems that you’re really nobody in the world of writing until you amassed your share of people telling you “no.”
Oh don’t get me wrong, I get plenty of electronic rejections “this piece does not fit our list” “Cute story – good luck” “Not open to submissions” but they just don’t have the same “zing” as a piece of paper sent through the U.S. Mail in which a real live person bellies up to the bar telling you to your face “nope, not now – hot shot.”
The hardcopy rejection of yore could be tacked to the wall – a constant reminder of “just who the hell does he think he is?” spurring you ever onward. Instead, these days we get an email that once read is lost in the daily onslaught of incoming information.
It’s just not the same.
I’m not saying that things should be changed, they shouldn’t. Electronic submission is the quickest and most efficient way to get anything done, I guess I’m just saying that in the good old days, you know the ones where I had to walk one mile uphill to school in the morning and then walk one mile uphill home in the afternoon?, there was a certain distinction and incentive-spurring quality to the now defunct hardcopy rejection letter that I do, along with Turkish Taffy, sorely miss.
Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.
Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens).
You were wondering how I would fit in the Turkish Taffy, weren’t you?