Not At This Time: Rejection Letters to Famous Writers

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Why is dad so sad?  Probably because he just checked his mail and found his self-addressed stamped envelope in his box, his manuscript inside, and the dreaded form letter saying, “We are sorry, but your manuscript does not currently meet our specific needs.”  The first dozen or so times, Dad wanted to believe the closing line promising to review his work in the future but…

Dr. Seuss (aka Theodore Geisel) knew the feeling.  His now-classic children’s book  And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street was rejected a whopping twenty-seven times before it was finally accepted by Vanguard Press.  This may be your fate as well.

Putting your work out in the world is scary. Rejection sucks. It can make you afraid to do it again.  But you have to try.  Because the twenty-seventh or twenty-eighth time might just be the one.

Novelist Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Treesoffers this advice to writers feeling wounded:  “This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.”

To give you hope, here are ten rejections of famous writers as well as a some of their reactions and advice about coping with rejection:

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Ten Cocktails for You, From Literature

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If you’ve ever hosted or been to a book club meeting, you know that you will discuss the book in question for approximately ten to fifteen minutes before the conversation turns to sex. Why not at least attempt to keep things on a literary bent (and bender) and try something besides chardonnay. Here are ten cocktails that characters were drinking in novels, links to their recipes, and some quotes to make you sound super smart, especially to that one snotty chick nobody likes but always brings good food so we keep our mouths shut.

gimlet

1.  Gin Gimlet – Philip Marlowe, The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

“You talk too damn much and too damn much of it is about you.”

singapore_sling

2.  Singapore Sling,  Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

“We can’t stop here, this is bat country!”

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Top Ten Gifts for Readers and Writers: Cyber-Monday is Here!

Got a reader and/or writer on your Christmas list? Take advantage of Cyber-Monday with these unique offerings for your favorite nerd. And I mean that in the most loving way possible, of course.

10. Favorite Writer’s Coasters

Even first-class swillers like the infamous… indulgers… Hunter S. Thompson and Charles Bukowski didn’t want nasty water rings left on their bedside table. Honor their memories and wishes with these snazzy coasters from Retrowhale and take advantage of 15% off your order, today only.  Use order code Retro77.

9.  Big Books Tote Bag

Make Sir Mix-a-lot proud and your children cringe with this bag from Pamela Fugate Designs. Free shipping!

8.  Tolkein Ring

As your favorite Tolkein geek will explain to you, the wizard Gandalf says this in The Fellowship of the Ring

7.  Bamboo Bath Caddy

A book, a bubble bath, and wine? I’ll be out around the end of February. Maybe. 10% off with the code “Cyber” at Macy’s.

6.  Massage Bed Rest from Brookstone

Ooohhh… Okay. It does remind me a bit of the flying chairs in the movie “Wall-E” but I’ll take one. I bet any other reader you know would love it as well. Massage, place for a drink, pockets, a reading light? Yes, please. 5% off Cyber-Monday with the code Pinit5.

5.  Hemingway Gift Box from Royal Palm Arts

Set includes a 6 oz stainless steel flask, a pair of shot glasses, a leather notebook, a wooden cigar caddy/pencil holder, and two pencils. Fill up the flask and throw in a couple of Cubans and you’ve got yourself a right manly Christmas there, my friend.

4. Demeter Fragrances: Paperback

Forget pheromones! I hope this comes in a male version. Books and manliness? Gimme.  Description promises, “A trip to your favorite library or used bookstore. Sweet and lovely with just a touch of the musty smell of aged paper, Demeter’s Paperback harnesses that scent with a sprinkling of violets and a dash of tasteful potpourri.”

3.  Scrabble: Book Lover’s Edition

Gather ’round kids, where I introduce you to this concept that came, yes, BEFORE “Words With Friends.” In this Scrabble edition, you get extra points for playing names of novels and authors. I’m not entirely sure why you couldn’t do that on a regular Scrabble board, but hey, this one looks all library-y and stuff. Cyber-Monday deals at Amazon. 

2.  Literary iPhone Covers

I love these. Love them! Perhaps I’ll even be persuaded to dump my 3G in order to get one. Or several. Hurry, limited editions and sadly, TKAM is already gone.  At Uncommon Goods.

1. Gift Certificate for Uninterrupted Reading and/or Writing Time

While all the previous ideas are fabulous, what most readers and writers want more than anything is some unfettered time…time free of needy kids, inquiring significant others, ringing phones, knocks at the door, email… Better yet, pair this with one or more of the other gifts listed here and make your favorite bibliophile/author very happy indeed.


Top Ten Famous Last Words and Final Stops: Writers and Their Gravesites

Halloween draws near, and with it, the reminders of our own mortality.  Ghosts and goblins are ways of coping with what George Bernard Shaw called “that troublesome business”: death. And, as Jim Morrison aptly noted, “No one here gets out alive.” So on that cheerful note, here are some of the last words of famous writers and images of their final resting places. At eNotes, we only haunt you with the very best!

1.  Ernest Hemingway  (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961)

“Goodnight, my kitten.” ~ To his wife, before he shot and killed himself.

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2.  L. Frank Baum (May 15, 1856 – May 6, 1919)

“Now I can cross the shifting sands.” ~ Referring to the desert that surrounded his fictional city, Oz. Baum suffered a stroke from which he never recovered.

3.  Dylan Thomas (27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)

“I had eighteen straight whiskies…I think that’s a record.”  While alcohol probably hastened the poet’s demise, new theories attribute undiagnosed pneumonia as the more likely cause of death.

4.  James Joyce  (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941)

“Does nobody understand?” No direct cause has ever been attributed to Joyce’s death but his heavy drinking almost certainly played a prominent role.

5.  Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888)

“Is it not meningitis?” ~ It was not, actually. Alcott died as a result of mercury poisoning.

6.  Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817)

“I want nothing but death.”  ~ To her sister, Cassandra, inquiring if she wanted anything. (It has never been determined from what, exactly, the 41-year-old author succumbed to (speculations have included stomach cancer, Addison’s disease and bovine tuberculous) but the latest research suggests arsenic poisoning may have been the culprit.

7.  Mark Twain (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910)

“Goodbye. If we meet…” ~ To his daughter, Clara. Twain died of a myocardial infraction (heart attack).

8.  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ( 28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832)

“More light!” ~ The cause of Goethe’s death is unknown.

9.  Henrik Ibsen (20 March 1828 – 23 May 1906)

“On the contrary!” ~ Ibsen’s response to his nurse, who remarked that he seemed better. Ibsen died as a result of complications from a stroke.

10. Hunter S. Thompson (July 18, 1937 – February 20, 2005)

“Relax — This won’t hurt.” ~ Thompson’s final line in his suicide note. The author shot himself. An iconoclast to the end, his widow said Thomas wanted to go out with a bang, and he did. On a platform he personally designed, Thompson had his ashes shot from a cannon to the music of  Norman Greenbaum‘s “Spirit in the Sky” and Bob Dylan‘s “Mr. Tambourine Man.” You can watch a video of Thompson’s final farewell here.


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