If one is a writer one of the things you get used to is rejection. It’s never pleasant but can be memorable. And sometimes, in retrospect, even funny.
When my mother learned she was giving birth to twins (my sister and I) she employed a nanny to help her. (There was already a two-year-old in the house — (my brother) — and my father was away at graduate school.) At the end of the first week, after I had been brought home, the nanny quit. The family story is that she said, “It would hurt my reputation to have been in a household where a baby [me] died.”
In kindergarten, my very first report card was issued. I received “Satisfactory“ in “sitting, standing, walking, and respecting the rights of others.” But for “use of handkerchief” I got “Unsatisfactory.”
[Edward is my birth name.]
For most of my elementary school days, I was in the same class with my twin sister. It was not unusual for me to hear, “That’s wrong. Let’s see if your smart sister has the answer.”
I had already flunked out of the first high school to which I went. When in the second, a private school, the English teacher called my folks and said “Avi is the worst student I have ever had. If you wish to have him continue here, he will need a writing tutor.”
In college, already having decided to be a writer, I asked an adult mentor to read some of my writing. “Lee, what do you think of my stuff?” “Well, Avi, it takes a heap of manure to make a flower grow.”
Editor: “I am turning this down. Just know an author’s second book is always much harder to write than his first.”
An editor rejected a submitted book. I asked, “Can you tell me what’s wrong with it?” The answer, “It has no salt.”
When another editor turned down a book of mine, I asked her if there was any part of it that was good. Her reply, “You can keep the title.”
Another editor’s rejection: “If I published this it would hurt your reputation.”
This is from an editor regarding a book we had been working on for a year: “You did everything I asked you to do but it’s no good.”
Another editor: “I have to turn it down. I love it, but my boss thinks no kid will ever read it.”
A Goodreads review: “I was forced to read this book in school and it’s the most boring book I ever read. Don’t, don’t, don’t ever read it!!!”
Sometimes when you are a writer it’s best to be like a turtle: wear a hard shell and keep up a slow but steady walk forward.