Kathryn Stockett spoke to a standing room only crowd in a huge church sanctuary because there wasn’t enough room anywhere else in Dallas for her rock-star crowd. We were totally with her when she began reading from a pile of rejection letters. She named names, and what could we do but laugh at the stupidity of the agents and editors who rejected THE HELP. We loved imagining how they must be kicking themselves, no longer able to trust their judgment, mortified and embarrassed before the entire literary world.
My own rejection letters weren’t so funny. But still, rejection from agents and editors I didn’t know never had the power to hurt me. What did hurt was being rejected by the institution that had nurtured my writing. I cried when my writing program rejected my application for their selective Agents and Editors Conference TWO YEARS IN A ROW. And my feelings were hurt when the writing conference that helped me prepare my manuscript for publication didn’t invite me back to speak along with all the other published alumni the year my book came out.
Should I laugh in the face of rejection? Not yet. It would be interesting to stand on a high podium and expose my detractors for their short-sightedness. But I might need them someday. Soon. I think I’ll just stick to writing and continue to coach myself to process rejection in a healthy way. I must think of rejection as a nuisance rather than a heart-breaker, a lesson rather than failure, my work rather than myself, and a speed-bump rather than the end.
I don’t think Kathryn Stockett used their real names.