Songs for the Struggling Artist

Rejection Reframed (The first of a series)
September 30, 2014, 10:40 pm
Filed under: art, Rejections, theatre, writing | Tags: , , ,

After my “Reframing Rejection” blog, one of my (wonderful!) Patreon supporters suggested a possible solution to my application motivation question. [Short version of that post: How do I hook getting rejection letters to something positive? How do I keep motivating myself to receive them?] My patron’s solution?

“If you write a blog post – even one sentence – for each rejection, maybe you can turn it into income via Patreon? Let your patrons cheer you on?”

And so, my readers and patrons, I am giving that a try. I’m not quite sure how this chronicle of rejection will evolve but it starts now.

My latest rejection letter is from The Room of Her Own Foundation for the Shakespeare’s Sister Fellowship. I didn’t expect to get this Fellowship – but gave it a shot anyway, though. Some rejections are painful because you really think you’ll get the thing you applied for and some are painful because of the crappiness of the letter. This one was a particularly shitty rejection letter. There are a million qualifiers, letting me know how stiff the competition was, how qualified the judges are, how I didn’t even make it to the second round and gee, thanks for helping us make the process better. It’s such a clear example of the sort of rejection letter that is written to make the letter writer feel better.

As the receiver of rejection letters, I don’t need any qualifications or the “gosh, the competition was so good” lines. I just want the information. Did I get it? Yes or no. I might like a letter that just said NO or BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME!


When you don’t have enough money in the bank to make a withdrawal, the ATM doesn’t say, “There are a lot of factors that go in to how your money comes to you, various fees, the salaries of our CEO, etc and unfortunately, your request for dollars was unable to be met. You should know that a lot of other really great people are also asking for money right now and as much as we’d like to give money to everyone, we can only dispense a limited amount. We wish you all the best in your money seeking endeavors. Don’t be discouraged! Keep asking for money in the future!” Nope –the ATM just spits out a little slip of paper that says Insufficient Funds and that is that. I would prefer a rejection letter that was more like a bank slip, for sure.

I particularly hate when rejection letters for writing tell me to keep writing. (This one: “We hope that you will continue to write.”) Give me a break. You think your shitty rejection letter is enough to dissuade me from writing? Sometimes it might be enough to dissuade me from writing shitty applications – but from writing?!? I don’t know anyone who’s quit their art just because some committee didn’t accept it. I can’t really imagine a writer who could be put off writing by a rejection notice but then return to it by the same letter’s suggestion. There he is, crying into his email box about his loss as he reads the opening paragraphs, declaring that he will never write again and then, there in that last line, when they tell him to keep writing – he feels. . . HOPE! Again! “Oh, I WON’T quit writing after all! Thank you, Rejection Letter!”

Anyway, that’s Rejection #1 in the Rejection Documentation Project. Stay tuned for future rejections. I’ve just written a bunch of grants and residency applications, so, fingers crossed for some really good ones.

You can join my little tribe of support and fight the crappiness of rejection. . .


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4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Keep blogging! I love this post. :). Maybe someday, this will help improve the rejection process. Wouldn’t that be nice? Not as nice as winning the grant, but still…

Comment by wlbrooklyn

Thank you! Both for the spark and for the comment! I think it will help, for sure. It feels better already, at least in my imagination!

Comment by erainbowd

I also hate the “keep writing” rejection letter for all the reasons you’ve expressed. Got one not long ago in ALL CAPS. Seriously?

Comment by Carol S. Lashof

Ha! It’s great when condescension can be SHOUTED as well. It’s loud AND condescending! Hooray! What is that, forceful condescension?!

Comment by erainbowd

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