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Rejection? A question of culture…

April 29, 2010

It was reinforced to me, today, as I spent a pleasurable few hours lecturing about change and the management of change to a very important student of the educational institute I am now a member of, that we can never take anything for granted. Cultural differences separate us all. Even in the confines of a single village, there are differences. And don’t get me talking about the two nations – the UK and the US – separated by a common language! (And I say this with affection!)

This has nothing to do with rejection - but it is a good book!

There is a quote from a philosopher, MacIntyre, that I frequently use in talking about culture: ‘I am brother, cousin and grandson, member of this household, that village, this tribe… These… characteristics… [define] partially at least and sometimes wholly my obligations and my duties.’

So, where am I going with a discussion on culture in relation to a post on Rejection? Stay with me, friends – I will make this short. It is, after all, (as I sit here typing this post) late here in good old London, England. And I have been out networking and drinking wine!

Back to the subject at hand.

Together with the reinforcement of my belief in the richness of value in cultural difference, I received an email of a post from a fellow UK writer and writing consultant. (I will not name her here). And a timely post it was – on the subject of rejection.

The post attempted, in all good faith, to interpret various rejection letters in answer to a question: “what do letters actually mean?” A couple of examples might help here:

Q: What does “We regret we’re unable to take on any new writers,” mean?

A: Exactly that. Have they read your pitch? Probably not.

Q: What does “Your synopsis and opening chapter have promise, but we already have a similar author on our list,” mean?

A: You are right to feel encouraged. They can see the potential in your work.

Neither has this. But I liked it the last time, too!

You get the picture.

But what can we actually say? Is it right to try and interpret such rejection letters? To try and read something into the words that have been written? To suggest there might (or might not) be some ray of hope trapped inside?

I would argue that there really is no point in trying to decipher a rejection letter. We cannot, as an individual (because of all the variety of differences that make up our individual cultural profiles) really know what someone is trying to say in the space of a few lines of bland English typed on some fairly nondescript parchment.

Is this bad news?

NO! A great big resounding NO!

The rejection letter in your hand has been written by one individual in this world of individuals. There are one heck of a lot of other individuals out there who would like to read what you have to say. So do not take a rejection letter to heart. Keep trying; submit more. Or, if you are impatient like me, you can always publish yourself these days – but then that is a subject for another week.

Happy writing, and don’t worry about rejections. JK Rowling – one of our more famous UK authors – was rejected many times!

And in the words of Donald Sutherland, in Kelly’s Heroes, “Quit the negative waves, Moriarty” 🙂

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2010 9:28 am

    We can definitely waste time over analyzing a rejection letter. It’s valuable time wasted when we could be sending out more query letters so we can get back more rejection letters…LOL!

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