Thursday, 1 November 2012

50 Shades of 'Go Away'

Part One in an occasional series.

Before I was born my mum and dad bought their first house, a fifties semi in Rochdale, from a writer. His name was Trevor Hoyle. My dad once told me about Hoyle's workspace, which they saw as they first visited the place. It had walls lined with - pretty much wallpapered with - rejection letters. There's something brave and brilliant about that; failure being an essential part of success and so on. So I thought it would be fun - a bit ghoulish, but there you go - to share some rejection letters. There's so many varied and interesting ways of being told 'no', and I've built up quite a collection - not enough to plaster the wall of a room with yet, but it's early days.

'No' #1: The Cold Shoulder

Man, this one is tough to take. The equivalent of being utterly ignored. Imagine someone staring with chilly disdain at your outstretched hand as you introduce yourself at a party. Yeah, that. But worse. The Cold Shoulder gives you no indication anywhere that your work has been read - implying instead that it left such a feeble impression on whichever intern happened to be working the slushpile that half-term, that they couldn't think of anything to say about it either way. At least - that's what you've got to tell yourself, or you'll stop submitting.

Some of the friendlier ones look like this:

Sometimes, just being addressed as 'author' is enough to make your day. Though I've got to say, a bit of mail-merge wouldn't have gone amiss.

But take heart. You get one of these, at least you know it can't get any worse. There are much better types of rejection - seriously - and although they don't hurt any less, they're a damn sight more helpful. The more of these you get, the quicker you'll progress.

Something Trevor Hoyle could tell us all a lot about.


  1. Hello dear Fletcher,
    Another great blog post! I so know what you are talking about here... Sadly most of us do!
    Sorry to use this comment to contact you but I can't see any other way of sending you a message (Twitter is so short on word allowance!). I'm away in Scotland for ten days on hols and hope you're very well.
    I've been tagged this week by Rachel Ward for a blog meme called 'The next big thing'. Don't know if you've already done it, but if you look at Rachel's blog, you'll see that you have to answer a set of questions about your current WIP - the answers can be as short or long as you like - post it on your website and pass it on i.e. try and recruit some writers for the following week.
    It appears each Wednesday, my answers will be posted on my blog next Wednesday -- I'll give a plug for yours which will appear the following week.
    Do let me know (on twitter) if you'd like to do it, and if so, I'll include you as one of my writers for next Wednesday.
    Very best wishes,

  2. Hallo,

    I liked reading this. I think you're right, that there is something about our failures being a sort of catalyst to our desires to improve. We keep these things, in the way that the cliche expression goes: What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. Still, I don't think that I'd go that far. I'd rather say this - We make our mistakes so that we have something to talk about with our friends. It's all about learning from what we do, good and bad.

    Nice, and insightful. Thanks for that.