Richard Daybell – Novels, stories and short humor
Last week’s post featured my first big sale as a writer. For a writer, such an event is a cause for celebration, an event that will be long remembered. Another event, a far more frequent occurrence, unfortunately, is the rejection. Rejections we’d rather not remember, but we do, in spite of ourselves. I’m guessing most of us don’t save rejections other than occasional hand-written notes telling us that even though they were not going to print our stuff they thought it was the best writing they had seen in their many years of slogging through manuscripts. Those we save, and maybe our most recent, and of course our first, which is like that first dollar bill that a business owner tacks up in some prominent spot This document shows that I am a writer. I may not be a published writer, but I am a writer nevertheless.
My first rejection was a giddy such experience – nothing disappointing about it. I had written a novel – I have since forgotten its title or what it was about – I’m sure it had animals in it. It was 150 words or so in length, and I had neatly printed it by hand on the 4” by 6” sheets of paper that came with my Superior Cub Rotary Printing Press. Now that I think about it, having that printing press, I could have self-published, although at the time that would probably have been considered childish. I tucked the manuscript into an envelope – no SASE enclosed – slapped a stamp on it, sent it off to Grosset & Dunlap Publishers and awaited my destiny.
I didn’t have to wait as long as I would have to on later submissions. I received a reply within a couple of weeks. A very official looking envelope containing a very official looking piece of stationery almost the same size as my original submission (which was thoughtfully enclosed).
My heart jumped as I read the printed letter:
Dear Writer: (They called me a writer!)
Thank you for your recent submission (You’re welcome!), but I’m sorry to say it does not fit our current needs. (I understand, I understand.) We wish you the best of luck in placing it elsewhere.
— The Editors (Not just one editor, but many!)
Well, I was thrilled to pieces. I imagined all those editors sitting around a big table. My manuscript is passed from one editor to the next for comment. “Hmm.” “Amazing.” “This boy can write.” “I laughed, I cried.” “We’ve got a literary phenomenon on our hands.” “Yes,” agrees the editor at the head of the table, the head-of-the-table editor, “But unfortunately it does not fit our current needs.” Sighs of disappointment all around. To a secretary: “Respond to this writer, please. Be sure to wish him the best of luck.”
With exhilaration, I jumped into my next project, certain that I had a promising future as a writer.