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July 30, 2018
By Betty Kelly Sargent
Editor Betty Kelly Sargent answers writing questions submitted by readers. This month, she takes a look at how to handle rejection.

Dear Editor:

How can I better deal with rejection? It happens to everyone, rights? -- T.R. Johns

Professional rejection is a big part of life for all creative people. If you’re an actor, painter, musician, or writer, you just have to expect noes, especially early in your career. And you are not alone. Here are some examples of rejections well-known books received that should cheer you up.

“Does it have to be a whale?... We recommend an antagonist with a more popular visage among the younger readers. For instance, could not the Captain be struggling with a depravity towards young, perhaps voluptuous, maidens?”

—On Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick

“I haven’t the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say. Apparently the author intends to be funny.”

—On Joseph Heller’s Catch-22

“Overwhelmingly nauseating... I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.”

—On Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita

As Harper Lee says, “I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.”

So take heart, and learn from your rejections. But if you’re writing about a whale—I’d keep the whale.

If you have a question for the editor, please email Betty Sargent.

Betty Kelly Sargent is the founder and CEO of BookWorks.

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