Advice for the rejected author

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A friend of mine from a writing list just had her manuscript accepted by her editor and then rejected by the editor’s boss. She asked how the rest of us handled these sort of emotional setbacks. This was my advice:

I go for lots of chocolate. (Does that surprise anybody?) Then I think about the movie, Happy Feet. Apparently somebody okayed that movie–which in case you haven’t seen it, and I don’t know anyone who saw it and liked it–is about a tap dancing penguin who is ostracized because he can’t sing, and tap dancing is weird. (Well you can’t blame the penguins for thinking that actually.)

So he goes off in search of aliens to find out the reason why the fish population is decreasing, he’s captured and put in a zoo, then released when the general public finds out he can tap dance (as opposed to selling him to the circus which is what would really happen.)

He teaches the rest of the penguin population to dance and this somehow means that people get the message to stop fishing and leave more food for the penguins. They didn’t really go into the logistics as to how people deduced the meaning of this message. (Maybe they saw the penguins and thought, “Ugh! Massive tap dancing! Somehow I just lost my appetite for eating fish!”)

After thinking about Happy Feet for a few minutes, it makes me realize that perhaps those Big Wigs upstairs okaying and vetoing stories really don’t know what they’re doing.

So don’t worry about it. Someone else will love your story.

Janette, who hardly ever eats fish so can’t be held responsible for starving penguins.


  1. Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts)
    September 12, 2007 at 11:03 am

    Excellent advice. I really hate that movie, by the way. Dancing penguins . . . the stuff nightmares are made of – yes you can write your own plot from there.

  2. Tamra Norton
    September 12, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    This can be such a frustrating business! We pour our blood into months–even years–of work, never knowing the end result. Persistance and patience are the keys. And along the way, we get a lot of “practice”…so we’re always getting better, right? And then there’s a lot of prayer…and pizza, and Pepsi, and days spent writing in our pajamas… (I’ll stop now)

  3. Josi
    September 12, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    ha ha–I hated the movie too. And I love fish, so I’m not sure I can be trusted. Great story. I think they play a lot of darts at some publishing houses–and politics. great advice.

  4. Lillian Syville
    September 12, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    i absolutly hated happy feet. It was the boringest movie i had ever seen and was totaly stupid. I mean, you could have made it an hour or to shorter

  5. Janette Rallison
    September 12, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    I hear (from my Disney source) that they’re going to come out with one about a futuristic (lonely) robot who is left on earth to pick up trash after all the lazy, fat earthlings leave for their space station because they’ve ruined earth.

    I could save Disney a lot of money by telling them right now that that won’t go over well.

  6. Julie Wright
    September 12, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    I never saw the movie based on reliable people telling me to save my money. Ah rejection . . . you’ve made a brilliant point (as usual).

    And you can edit your own posts any time you want. I will never worry about it. (i’ve done it too a few times for the grammar reasons . . . darn those commas)

  7. Rebecca Talley
    September 13, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    I never saw the movie, either, but I have watched movies and read books and wondered how on earth they were ever produced/published.

    I think there’s a good bit of luck with it–submitting the right story to the right editor at the right time. And who knows when that is?

    Great post.

  8. Lillian Syville
    September 13, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    That robot’s got to be the stupidest movie i’ve ever heard of. Of course you never know, but I still dont thing it’ll work.

  9. Anne Bradshaw
    September 14, 2007 at 6:47 am

    Aaaah! This is all bliss to my ears. I so do know the rejection thing, though the sting (I hit the k key in error and deleted, but maybe stink is more appropriate)diminishes with practice. And in this business there sure is a lot of practice.

    Thanks for a great analogy, Janette. Sounds like that movie sting/k/s, too 🙂

  10. Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen
    September 14, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    I haven’t seen the movie, and now I hope I never will. Unlike most of the really good books that have such a hard time finding a publisher, and that I hope to someday read. Good luck to your friend.

  11. Anonymous
    September 15, 2007 at 9:55 am

    They’ve got to be mentally challenged if they think the robots gonna make it anywhere(except maybe like in the trash, on ebay, etc.)

  12. Traci Hunter Abramson
    September 15, 2007 at 9:59 am

    Now I’m definitely glad I missed out on Happy Feet. Of course, since I originally hail from landlocked, arid, and yes HOT Phoenix, Arizona I probably wouldn’t understand anything about dancing on ice.

  13. Keeley
    September 15, 2007 at 11:22 am

    What a great way of thinking of it! =)

    Oh gosh I hated Happy Feet. The reason it was released? Because it had a bunch of big name Hollywood types in it and it was all about the environment with the implication that awful selfish humans are a virus and we need to quit eating fish and stuff.

    Oh, yeah, and religion is selfish and evil.

    2 Nephi 15:20 Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness

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