Rejection sucks. I have been rejected frequently. Okay, I had 3 novels published but I've had at least 5 rejected. Each represents 2-3 years of unpaid labor. I was rejected by The New Yorker 7 times. I was a finalist in the Sundance Film Festival and then lost, the Disney fellowship and then lost and a few other big contests. I didn't get into Brown, Cornell or some other college I can't remember. A bunch of men rejected me. On the other hand I've been married three times. I am constantly not getting jobs. I didn't get into Yaddo or McDowell (wait listed) two of the most prestigious writing colonies in the world.
I am waiting to find out whether I was accepted to the PHD program at UIC for adolescent literacy. My mom has already told me in her best Irish-mother-from-hell-mode that I probably won't get in because I'm too old. I'm also waiting to hear from my agent who recently killed the three year attempt to write a marketable vampire novel whether she wants me to continue writing this memoir (where I get back at that irish mother).
The thing is, I put myself out there. I try to get things that other people opt out of so they don't get rejected. I apply for competitive jobs and contests and I frequently lose. People pretend to sympathize or admire my gumption but I suspect they are secretly appalled by my endless capacity for failure. This decision to compete is not altruistic in the least. For one thing, I cant slag the competition if I don't take the same risks. I can't point out that so-and-so is related to that major honcho on the jury or that "the dumb bitch" is sleeping with the asshole in charge. I can't whine and take to my bed with bowls of unhealthy snack food. So, I try & fail but sometimes I win. Sometimes I get the fat envelope, the happy phone call, the long e-mail with details about the gourmet meals I will be fed for a month. So, I keep trying and secretly believing that anyone who wins all the time is probably a bogus artist. Or related to one of the judges. Or boring.


  1. Congrats on getting wait-listed at MacDowell! I just got the standard form rejection.

    I think I have some of the same non-altruistic reasons for putting myself out there so much. :) Weirdly enough, I'm way more okay with rejection for my writing than I ever was with rejection for my acting.

    Fingers crossed for UIC! They would be lucky to have you.


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