Welcome to SCRAWL SPACE, Greg’s blog. Here he waxes eloquent on all things relating to writing and the writing life. In other words, it’s where he loves to waste his time and that of his readers. He’s very happy you’ve stopped by. You, too, Dad.
There are plenty of feel-good quotes intended to inspire writers to fully embrace the craft and to dream and create and succeed.
I prefer quotes like this one from American science fiction writer John Scalzi:
"Engrave this in your brain: EVERY WRITER GETS REJECTED. You will be no different."
I have received my fair share of rejection letters from literary agents and publishers in my time as a writer. When I received my first few (back when I was pitching my debut novel, Notes on an Orange Burial) I became very discouraged and dispirited. After a while, however, I grew thicker skin. I also realized it wasn’t the agents’ and publishers’ fault that they were born without the ability to recognize latent literary brilliance. I just chalked it up to bad genetics. (Theirs, not mine.)
I even started to feel sorry for some of the agencies and publishing houses for lacking the wisdom and foresight to sign me. But I knew my pity wasn’t going to help them. So I decided to start rejecting their rejection letters with a rejection letter of my own.
Since I’m not a complete sociopath with a writing-career death wish, I never actually sent my “Rejection Letter for Rejecting a Rejection Letter” to any agents or publishers. However, I think it would be a lot of fun if you did so the next time you receive a rejection letter. (For those of you who aren’t writers, feel free to pass this post on to your friends or family members who are, or who think they are.)
And without further ado, here it is – the Rejection Letter for Rejecting a Rejection Letter:
Dear (name of agent or publisher),
Thank you very much for your recent rejection notification. Unfortunately, I am unable to accept your rejection at this time. Please understand that I receive a high volume of rejection notifications and must be highly selective in choosing those that I am able to handle.
The acceptance of rejection notifications is a highly subjective process. The fact that I have decided to pass on your rejection in no way signifies your rejection is sub-par, and I encourage you to continue rejecting authors’ queries and submissions. Just because I have decided to pass on your rejection doesn’t mean there aren’t numerous other authors who’d be happy to be rejected by you.
I wish you the best of luck in your future rejection endeavors and want to thank you for allowing me to review your work.
(Your name here. Or a made-up name – to ensure that you have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever having another agent or a publisher even THINK about accepting your manuscript.)
If you liked this post, you can join my mailing list to have all my future “Scrawl Space” blog posts delivered directly to your inbox. (Even if you DIDN’T like this post, I’ll still let you join – I’m open-minded like that.) By joining the list, you’ll also immediately receive a FREE copy of the first chapter of my dark comic thriller, THE EXIT MAN.
The writing world is fiercely competitive. As a novelist, getting interviewed by important figures in publishing is no simple endeavor. At least that’s what I’ve heard – I don’t like difficult endeavors and thus I haven’t actually even tried to secure such an interview. Instead, I recently used vodka to pay a friend to ask me a few questions about my fictional – I mean fiction – career. And yes, that friend was myself. Here's how it went down:
Why did you become a writer? I was born with the innate inability to shut up, thus I needed a (somewhat) healthy outlet for my words. I’ve given professional public speaking a whirl, but audiences struggled to understand what the hell I was saying because I talk too fast. Plus, I often got distracted by shiny objects in the crowd. So writing is a natural fit for me. (A more traditional career isn’t really an option – I’m pretty much unemployable due to my moodiness and my genuine disdain for team-building, motivational posters and commercial carpeting.)
Now that you are a published novelist, do people come up to you in the street or at restaurants? Despite me posting pictures of myself and my book covers all over the Internet and on telephone poles, café bulletin boards and neighbors’ houses, people totally leave me alone when they see me in the street. I guess they respect my privacy. People do often approach me in restaurants, but it’s only to take my order or refill my water glass.
Who are some of your favorite authors? I’ll answer that like this: If my house ever caught on fire, after saving my wife and my daughter and my cat and my vodka, I would risk my life to save my books by Dostoevsky, Camus, Kafka and Nabokov. I would risk second-degree burns to save Vonnegut, Palahniuk, Chabon, Delillo, Bukowski and (Cormac) McCarthy. I would risk first-degree burns to save Faulkner, Joyce, Roth, Sartre, Nietzsche and Seuss. And I would risk getting a little smoke on my clothes to save Woody Allen’s short stories.
What do you hope readers get/got out of your first novel, Notes on an Orange Burial? I want them to empathize with my unstable protagonist Jona more than they fear him. I want them to cheer him on even when it appears he should be institutionalized. Most of all, I want them to laugh a lot, cry a little, and realize that poetry can be not horrible... and that kidnapping is wrong. (You can read more about Notes on an Orange Burialhere.)
What are you working on now? I recently completed my second novel, The Exit Man, which will be available soon – this coming spring. It’s a dark comic thriller about a party supply store owner who leads a secret life as a euthanasia specialist. He helps terminally ill individuals end their lives peacefully and with dignity using something he has ready access to: helium. I know, I know, he sounds disturbed and morbid, but he really is a good guy once you get to know him. It's the perfect book for people who like Dexter and Dr. Kevorkian. (You can read more about The Exit Manhere.)
And finally, if you were to ever win the Pulitzer Prize or the Pen/Faulkner Award, who would you thank during your acceptance speech? I would first thank the collie I grew up with, Cinnamon, who has been dead for 30 years but who always truly believed in me. I’d also thank my parents, my English teachers and writing coaches, my wife, my brothers, my daughter, and the kid who hit me in the head with a fastball in little league and damaged my cerebral cortex just enough to enable me to come up with the kinds of stories I write. Actually, I should probably thank that kid even more than I thank my dead collie. Oh yeah, and I’d certainly thank all my readers. You don’t win literary awards without those fantastic people behind you.
Enough about me. In the next installment of "Scrawl Space", I'll be interviewing Eli Edelmann – the protagonist of THE EXIT MAN. Eli's much more interesting than I am, and 89% more fictional.