It took J.K. Rowling 17 years to write the Harry Potter series.
Adam Scott originally auditioned for the part of Jim Halpert on The Office. He didn’t get it.
An aspiring author wrote her first draft of a book and sent it off with hopes of publication.
“After rejection number 40, I started lying to my friends about what I did on the weekends. They were amazed by how many times a person could repaint her apartment. The truth was, I was embarrassed for my friends and family to know I was still working on the same story, the one nobody apparently wanted to read.”
In the end, she was turned down 60 times.
Then, after five years of writing and three and a half years of rejection, the 61st agent finally accepted this woman’s idea.
Her name was Katherine Stockett.
Her book was called The Help.
Rejection doesn’t mean your idea is bad or lacks potential. It could mean that, but it doesn’t automatically mean that.
What it does mean, though, is there is still work left to do. I’ve read that Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
What if Katherine Stockett had stopped after her first rejection? Or her 15th? Or her 51st? What if she had stopped working to make the art better?
I know there is a danger of becoming an obsessive workaholic, focused on our own idea of success and accepting nothing less.
That’s a problem all by itself. But what I see and experience more of is the opposite – quitting too soon, losing hope too quickly, and falling into despair at the first sign of rejection or difficulty.
I don’t know what occupies your time today. I don’t know what passions or anxieties you are holding in your hands. I don’t know what kind of project you just gave up on, which relationship you hope to mend, or what dream you are waiting to see realized.
But I do know that part of the art is the process. And part of the process is rejection and disappointment.
How you handle that could be an art all by itself.Leave a Comment
Oh thank you. I am working on my first ebook and even in self-publishing fear rejection. I needed to read this!
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
I admit that I don’t handle rejection well. l love the quote by Leonardo da Vinci. I am guilty of abandoning what could be a work of art. Thanks for the encouragement that it only takes one “yes” amidst the sea of “no’s”.
Oh the big dreams weigh me down, and even before I really get started on them, this looming rejection scares me. This post was so needed for me today as I struggle to not give up on the dreams He has given me. I had succumbed to the idea that since I was good at math and became an engineer, it meant I could never be a writer. Now the dream of being published — even though I have no idea what He will call me to write — oh how big this dream is. But will anyone want to read it? Will anyone support this dream? At least I can rest assured knowing He will always guide me where He wants me, supporting me in the dreams He has for me! Thank you for this beautiful and uplifting post!
Lynn Morrissey says
Vanessa, i mentioned your comment in my post below. Dear one, rest assured that if God has called you to write, someone will want to read what you have to say, because the dream is from Him. He can be trusted.
Blessings to you on your writing journey.
Write about engineering and math many novels use the authors expertise as a backdrop. Lawyers write criminal novels and mysteries, doesnt mean your not a writer.
Write what you know first, then write as you grow why not write a childrens book based on numbers
I could do without the rejection part of the process, but it certainly is character building;) Thanks for this reminder that it’s all part of creating art!
Thanks for this great word of encouragement, Emily! Amazing story about the book The Help. I think Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was also rejected many, many, many times. I love Thomas Edison’s quote, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”
I think we get so goal oriented that we forget how important the process is.
Jamie Rohrbaugh says
That’s an awesome quote! I’m going to share it with my writing buddies. 🙂
Nancy Ruegg says
Thank you, Betsy, for reminding me that the process is important–that’s where my faith and perseverance are being developed. Wise words, Sister!
Amen, Amen, Amen !
Lynn Morrissey says
Emily, this is a most encouraging post and a needed one. THere are so many great artists whose work was rejected multitudinous times and yet, they persisted, and the work was ultimately accomplished. I’m sure one could just Google that topic and find them. I think what your reader Vanessa said is key: “At least I can rest assured knowing He will always guide me where He wants me, supporting me in the dreams He has for me!” If the dream is from God, we should not abandon it; He will support it through thick and thin and bring it to be. If the dream is not His for us in the first place, we shouldn’t be pursuing it anyway. I think it is critical to discern His dreams for us and then abandon ourselves to Him….to obey by writing (or whatever we are called to do), keep pursuing publication (and there are many forms), never give up on what He has called us to do. My book was published *ten* years after God planted that dream in my heart, but He was faithful to publish it (perhaps just not on my desired time-table). Over the years, I have come to relinquish the word rejection. I think it is an unfortunate term in the publishing industry. Authors take it personally, because it sounds personal–as if the author himself is being rejected. I prefer saying “not selected,” because in the end, I think that’s more accurate. Publishers are not selecting a particular work that might be exemplary for a myriad of reasons…..they may have reached their quota for the year, the particular manscript may not represent the tone of the company, they may have enough books in a particular genre, etc. Their not selecting it doesn’t mean that the work itself isn’t quality and that the author isn’t talented. Just my two cents worth….and I’m so glad you are addressing this. Writers are languishing at their keyboards because they are ready to give up. God bless you, Emily, for being such a nurturing cheerleader!
Lynn, thank you so much! I agree the words “not selected” seem so much more accurate. It’s also so important to remember that blessings happen in His perfect timing, no matter how hard we impatiently pray for it to happen. He does everything precisely when He intends. Your words have been such a blessing today!
Lynn Morrissey says
How kind of you. Thank you, Vanessa. *They* bless me! Oh, you are wise. Yes, His perfect timing is everything. Sometimes we need to live through something He wants us to write about because particular readers will need to read our words at certain junctures in our lives. I think in the end, it all boils down to trusting Him. Thank you again, so much.
Thank you, thank you! What a boost for my lagging motivation regarding the book I’ve talked about writing for….how many years now? My memoir – all I need to get serious and get started is stored away in stacks of journals, boxes of photo albums, a folder of favorite scripture and quotes, etc, etc.
that’s the. Problem I think – too much information – too much sorting thru and organizing. It’s overwhelming, but I’m inspired once again after reading your post. And what I hear over and over is to keep writing, stay in the mode, whether you’re in the mood or not. As in the quote “don’t abandon it.”
As someone told me just recently, a page a day and in a year your book is written – maybe not ready to publish, but the heart of it is done. And so, thank you again.
Peace and blessings.
Lesley Burton says
Yes, rejection is definitely hard, but it’s made even harder by internalizing it. If someone doesn’t like my writing, I tend to jump to the conclusion that they don’t like me. Creating art is a deeply personal process and I struggle to remember what it’s role truly is. My identity is not in what I create, but Jesus. Only when I remember this truth does my art and self esteem seem to flourish.
“My identity is not in what I create, but Jesus.” Awesome words to keep close, Lesely. Thanks!
I’ve been ruminating this morning about a relationship that never was, rejection & disappointment is what I still feel. Thanks for giving me something else to think about!
This is a much appreciated post.I myself recently received a rejection slip.I’ll admit that yes I felt discouraged at first but when I reread the slip it never once said it wasn’t good enough, just that it wasn’t what they were looking for.In other words not to give up but to keep trying.So discouragement can be changed into encouragement.
Best wishes to all of you that are seeking your dream…..
Jamie Rohrbaugh says
Thank you!!! I’m in my first year blogging, and I just published my first audio message (for sale rather than a short-but-free podcast) and I have been so excited about it. I put my heart and soul into it. And I sold 2 copies in the first week. Two! But I am grateful for those two copies sold and I am not going to quit anyway. 🙂
Yes. I needed to hear this today Emily. I am so prone to letting discouragement shut me down.
Yes, Lesley Burton, thank you. And thank you, Emily for your encouragement…always so rich.
Girl. I’ve been thinking so much about this lately. I just told my kids last week that Harry Potter was rejected 12 times. I don’t even know how that’s possible. And I had no idea The Help was rejected 60 times. Crazy. It’s one of my favorite books ever. I haven’t submitted anything to anyone ever. Unless you count hitting “publish” on a blog post or that one article I co-authored in grad school. The mere thought of it terrifies. But I love how you include journeying through rejection and disappointment as art itself. Because it is. And that’s something I do know a bit about.
I love this post.
Beth Williams says
But what I see and experience more of is the opposite – “quitting too soon, losing hope too quickly, and falling into despair at the first sign of rejection or difficulty.”
That quote suits me to a tee. When I feel rejected, not wanted or “tossed out” and have my job duties change drastically I just want to walk out & quit. Giving up is usually my motto. I find that if I persevere and pray about the situation God will ultimately put me where He wants me and make me to prosper.
Thanks for the encouragement today!
That quote struck me as well, Beth. A friend of mine shared a great quote via instagram months ago that immediately came to mind while reading this post and your comment — “Most don’t go far enough to know they have a second wind.” — she was referring to running, but it’s applicable here as well, I think.
Im a quitter..big time. I feel like God favors some and not others. im feeling perpetually in the other category. So do i need to change?
Sarah Schulz says
Thank you. I feel encouraged to move more deeply into my art today because you wrote this–and thank you especially for the note near the end, reminding us that even relationships need the work of art within them. Yes. Yes, indeed.
(p.s. Emily, I’m about to lead a study group of your book. I’m so excited to share your art and truth with my friends!)
Shelly Miller says
I think of Kathryn Stockett a lot when I write. I just encouraged a young photographer just starting out who received some rejection from her first wedding shoot with her story. And perhaps that is more of a message for all of us than her book. That courage and determination to press through despite rejection is what it often takes to reach the realization of your dreams. I cannot wait to read your book, its gonna be epic.
Oh boy!!! Here we go the miracleous catch of fish. Im like Peter exhausted after fishing all night the only difference i THOUGHT i had great tenacity i even wrote about it..Does God ever tell you to give up. When is it time to call it quits or keep trucking. Im so used to things coming easily so my attitude is like if God wants me to get writing jobs Hes perfectly capable why do i have to put all this EFFORT if its something He wants published???? I understand perseverance but when is there balance. What does He want me to learn, its HIS gift why do i have to try so hardvif its something He already told me to do…aaargh! Pls buy my ebook..btw…lol ( not above begging)
Thank you for this reminder.. I keep giving up on my dream craft business because it is always so slow, but your words were very encouraging. I am going to keep working at it, cause its definitely what I love to do. God bless you!!
So true… I’m actually dealing with my own fear of rejection right now, I’ve written about it a few times on my blog. In trying to build my graphic design business and grow my blog I’ve decided to ask for something every day for 24 days. Something that I may very well be turned down for. It’s terrifying, but without fear there is no growth.
Margo @ Legacy of a Single Girl says
Oh! This is so God-breathed today for me!! As an artist, and as a woman who’s life journey is changing again. I GREAT reminder not to give up!!! Thank you!!
Thank you so much. I have been in a slump over the current state of my marriage and have been pondering if it was time to walk away but I am reminded here to not quit. I need to stay the course and keep my faith on Christ who has the master plan.
TK Thompson says
I have been “dwelling on” writing a book about children in care ( under guardianship of the minister) due to any number of reasons. I work with these children as a carer & want to tell the story from the angle of the child. Most people have no idea where these kids are & how their lives look. A lot of these children remain in emergency care for a long long time. I even have the book title- A Gilded Cage………but I get so so scared about the what ifs. Time to just trust that God has put this burden in my heart for a reason. Thanks so much for this encouraging article.
Thank you for the inspiration this morning. I am new at blogging and experiencing a kind of let down at the lack of response from it. It is important to keep trying and reaching out. I am not finished yet and I will carry on. This post was a great reminder of that!
Thanks for the encouragement. Nonsupportive family paralyzes me. I will press on!
Nancy Ruegg says
Your post was like a double espresso for my spirit — a good jolt to keep me going. Thank you for the reminder that rejection and disappointment are just part of the process. Not fun, but necessary!
Oh this is incredibly inspiring! I have never handled rejection well…with people & with my writing. i need to stick with it and keep trying!
Carolyn Tidwell says
How about if we are willing to say:Not Selected at this time. Timing is everything, and God has a time for us that we are not yet seeing. There is always another day, another time that He sees as best for us to rise and shine.
I was scrolling down the list of blogs on Incourage today and stopped when I came to yours! In our minds…we know this truth, but, it is always a blessing to remind our hearts again that rejection of any kind is not the end of the story. :o)