It's not you, it's me: Writers and rejection

By Katharine Swan On Monday, September 17, 2007 At 4:45 PM

Rejection is one of the topics that gets revisited frequently in writer's forums and blog threads. With that in mind, I found this NPR story, about some of the famous writers rejected by Alfred A. Knopf, very interesting. The radio spot mentions now-classic works such as George Orwell's Animal Farm ("impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S.A.") and Jack Kerouac's On the Road ("a badly misdirected talent" and "huge, sprawling, and inconclusive novel"). Sylvia Plath and Anne Frank (submitted by relatives or friends, I'm guessing?) are also mentioned as being among Knopf's rejects.

(As a side note, something I found interesting about this little radio spot is that apparently, against all rules of English pronunciation, "Knopf" is not pronounced with a silent "k". In fact, none of the letters in this publisher's name are silent. Repeat after me: "Kin-op-ffffff.")

Stories like these are always encouraging to writers, because it helps us weather those rejection notices some of us receive by the dozens. Maybe we're not the next George Orwell or Jack Kerouac — but if these literary geniuses received such scathing rejection notices, maybe the form rejections we receive don't necessarily reflect on our writing abilities, after all.

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Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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