Heard From Harlequin

One of the most difficult things about being a writer is receiving a rejection letter in the mail. Even a good rejection letter. Which is why I am so grateful that I’ve been reading Marianne Williamson’s A Course in Weight Loss. What does weight loss have to do with rejection letters?

More than you might think.

When Williamson writes that “Learning to live with the common disappointments and failures of the human experience–particularly with how the fear mind interprets them–is part of your spiritual mastery,” what I hear is not so much about diet failure but failure in general. That it is common. That disappointments happen to all of us.

For most writers, rejection is as common as weeds in an untended garden.

Williamson goes on to say “Mastery doesn’t mean you get to the point where nothing ever goes wrong; it means you get to the point where you can endure and transform what’s wrong.” So, yes, I got a rejection letter. But it was a personal letter, not a xeroxed form. The editor who read my pages gave me useful feedback. Information gold, in fact. I decided to learn from it, use it to make my stories stronger.

She also invited me to submit pages to her again. And I’ll take her up on that. It’s been part of the plan all along, but knowing that she welcomes my work makes it that much easier to move forward. Which is what I’m doing, despite Christmas, despite end of semester grading craziness, despite fear of rejection.

Yes, that rejection hurt like hell. And I allowed myself to feel those feelings. What I did not allow myself was to believe fear thoughts like “she hates my work” “I’ll never be good enough for Harlequin” “I should just give up.”

Instead I endured a day or two of keen disappointment–feeling the feelings but not adding any fear-based thoughts to them–and  then got going on transforming this rejection into a new opportunity by digging into the revisions for Luke’s #1 Rule.


  1. Aw, bummer, Cindy. But I join the other writer who commented that you should definitely feel encouraged by the fact that she wants to see other work! Seriously. That wasn’t a total rejection. That said, I feel what you’re feeling every time I get rejected. This is a tough business and we writers sure learn to grow a thick skin, don’t we? Here’s a story I wrote/published once, on this very topic. Maybe it will bring some comfort to you:
    “The Slings and Arrows of Rejection”


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