THE BLOG

Unfortunately, No: The Importance of Rejection

12/22/2013 05:46 pm ET | Updated Feb 21, 2014
Max Oppenheim via Getty Images

We all get rejected.

As a model, I've been told I'm too fat, that my torso should be shorter and my legs longer, and that my nose just "looks funny." These comments never bothered me because they were things I couldn't change, at least without major surgical intervention. Long ago, I decided to go Jennifer Lawrence on the "haters." Say, "f*ck you," in my mind, and move on.

As a writer, I've been rejected hundreds of times. I often spend days working on articles, only to have them returned with the form-locution, "unfortunately, at this time...

a. Things are competitive
b. This doesn't suit our needs
c. You suck.

"Unfortunately" seems to be a key word in the rejection business. It often leads the most torturous denials, the ones that make judgments about my malleable core, the ones that critique my creativity, editing choices or talent.

Now, here's the good part. If you fail, you're in good company.

Welcome to the dark side.

Stephen King kept all of his rejection letters posted on nail in his office. In his book, On Writing, he notes, "By the time I was fourteen... the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and kept on writing."

Robert M. Pirsig's Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected 121 times, more than any other bestseller, earning a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Publishers told Sylvia Plath of The Bell Jar, "There certainly isn't enough genuine talent for us to take notice."

I don't expect to write dozens of New York Times Bestsellers. I also know that while I don't have nearly enough talent to warrant a literal meltdown that involves sticking my head in the oven, I've got something.

In the end, should we take the easy way out, give up?

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to say, No.