Tuesday Writing Tips – Dealing With Rejection

I’ve been reading an exquisite series of short stories written by the extraordinary New Zealand writer, Janet Frame and published by Wilkins Farago.

Janet Frame has ‘Twice been shortlisted for the Nobel Prize for Literature, and was Winner of the 2007 Montana Award for poetry in New Zealand’, yet she too has felt crushing rejection.  When her story, Gorse is Not People was rejected by Charles Brasch in 1954, she said,

“I found myself sinking into empty despair. What could I do if I couldn’t write?”

Janet Frame book - 9780987109972A year later after showing her story An Electric Blanket to Frank Sargeson, she was so crushed by his  criticism that she never offered that story for publication.

More than half a century later, both these wonderful stories have been published in an anthology by Wilkins Farago called Between My Father and the King.

To me, this shows how we should not be put off by rejection – we should never give up hope.

If a publisher has constructive feedback on your manuscript that fits with your vision for the story, then fix it. If they send you a form rejection, it doesn’t mean it’s not publishable – its just not for them.

Janet Frame’s short stories are poignant, beautiful, memorable and authentic. They are heartfelt, compelling stories, personal accounts taken from her own life – but she still suffered crushing rejections.

In her story, ‘Dot’ she talks about how she sent in a poem to ‘Dot’s Page’.  Janet’s poem was about a flower dreaming of the love of a golden moon.  Dot responded with ‘I like your poem very much, but I wonder if flowers, even poetically ever dream of moons’.

Janet was very hurt and and said, “I knew that flowers did dream of moons. I could not understand why Dot had even raised the question.”

Luckily for the world of literature, Janet did not stop writing after her rejections – and nor should you.


  1. Remember that it’s your work that is being rejected, not you as a person.
  2. Remember that publishers and agents are people so they will have their own interests and preferences.  You just have to keep looking until you find the publisher who shares your vision as a writer.
  3. Have a plan.  When I send out a manuscript, I always have a plan as to where I will send it next so that if it’s rejected, I have a fall back position – and can still be hopeful that it will be published.
  4. Do as much research as you can to ensure that the publisher/agent you are sending your work to is the best fit for you and your work.
  5. Writing is an apprenticeship – it takes years of practice to hone your craft.  I have around 60 manuscripts in my filing cabinets that will probably never see the light of the day – they were my practice stories.
  6. If you have received a rejection letter, it means you have something in common with many great writers like Janet Frame.  It means you are working on your craft and sending your work out – so you are taking the next step towards publication.
  7. Oh, and don’t forget the chocolate – and don’t forget to celebrate any successes, not matter how small.  Sending your work out is a massive achievement in itself.


Between My Father and the King

This new collection of 28 short stories by Janet Frame spans the length of her career and contains some of the best she wrote. None of these stories has been published in a collection before and more than half, are published in this anthology for the first time.

Janet’s stories of hardship are told with humour and humanity which is what makes them so accessible to the reader.

She wrote with both self-awareness and incredible perceptiveness.  The emotion in her stories is sometimes so raw that it’s almost childlike.

Between My Father and the King, the short story that gave the anthology it’s name is probably one of my favourites. it combines history with pathos and humour – and I was drawn into the post World War 1 setting.


You’ll find more tips about how other writers deal with rejection here.

Good luck with your submissions and I hope your rejections turn to acceptances.  If you have extra tips about dealing with rejection, please feel free to include them in the comments section of this post.

Happy writing and submitting:)


17 thoughts on “Tuesday Writing Tips – Dealing With Rejection

  1. Glad you found this post inspiring, Dimity:)

    I’ve come to accept that rejection is part of being a writer – and we just have to move on from it – although it’s never easy.


  2. I’m teaching a course at the NSW Writers’ Centre at the moment Dee and we were talking about all of those things last week. Kate Di Camillo is another great example of persistence with 400 rejections and look at her now (The Tale of Desperaux, Because of Winn Dixie etc and she’s the US equivalent of the Children’s Laureate this year). Great post – I’ll be directing my students to it!

  3. I know Alison. As you know, many of my manuscripts have vanished into the Black Hole, and it can definitely be discouraging, but I guess it’s part of the environment in which we work.

    I hope you get some good news from The Black Hole soon.

    Dee x

  4. Great post, Dee. I like to think of a rejection as an opportunity to cross a possible home off the list – taking me one step closer to the perfect home (after I’ve finished being bitter and twisted, of course).

  5. Thanks Sally,

    We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t go through the bitter and twisted stage first would we?:) Then our natural powers of reason and optimism reassert themselves and we move on.


  6. Great post, Dee. I heard a well-established author (with many, many rejections under his belt) suggest that a writer should crack on with another project as soon as he or she has sent off a manuscript. This helps to avoid the waiting … waiting …feeling, and means that not everything is resting on one manuscript. Having said that – the first cut is the deepest, no matter how well you prepare for it!

  7. I think the big disappoinmtment often comes when one is still receiving rejections after fifty or sixty publications. Can’t help thinking it’s supposed to get easier, not harder.

  8. I can understand your disappointment Sally, but I guess the market’s always changing and making room for new writers, which is a good thing in a way because otherwise people like me would never have been published.

    Unless I become the next JK Rowling or Suzanne Collins (and I’m not holding my breath about that one:), I have prepared myself for the fact that rejections are probably always going to be part of my writing life.

    But I think as you say that getting traditionally published books is becoming harder because there are more writers than ever competing in a diminished market – which is also happening in other occupations.

    Wishing you all the very best with your future submissions:)


  9. Hi Dee,

    How the devil are you? Just thought I’d touch base. I had an amazing 2 weeks at Varuna and met some stunning people who I’m still in contact with – one lives 20 minutes from my home!!!! Still working hard but awaiting the final decision of the other Varuna PIP competition end of this month and if no luck there then Text Prize it is. Another coincidence is the woman I met at Varuna who lives near me has also been shortlisted by Varuna for the Publisher’s Program so we may return together!!!

    Anyhow, I hope you’re going really well and I do enjoy reading your blogs and newsletters. Good luck with all,

    Warm regards,


  10. Hi Taryn,

    Lovely to hear from you.

    I’ve been busy writing – and getting ready to go back to Nevada.

    So glad you had a fabulous time at Varuna and that you found a writing friend who lives close by. Sounds like it was very productive. Such great news about being shortlisted for the Publisher’s Program – I hope you and your friend have the chance to return together.

    You sound so inspired, which is wonderful to hear. Look forward to hearing more of your news:)


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