Why rejection is good

When I was in middle school, I decided to try out for the girls’ basketball team.  When the day of tryouts came, I chickened out.  Instead of reporting to the gym, I got on the bus and went home.

“Oh, I thought I was picking you up at school?” my mom asked when I got home.

“I didn’t make the team,” I said.

“They had us line up shortest to tallest, and they cut the shortest people,” I explained.  “I still had time to make the bus.”

Of course, it wasn’t true.  My school was weird but not that weird.  I had just gotten cold feet.


This girl did not go to my school.

My mom bought the story.  She didn’t know much about sports, so I guess a height-based cut for basketball players seemed logical.  She must have thought that I went to school with some freakishly tall girls because I have always been of average height.

I had wanted to play basketball but didn’t really know how.  I was a baseball kid, born and raised with a Rawlings glove on my left hand.

I played pick-up basketball with the guys down at the court at the bottom of the street.  There were usually five or six of us, and most of the time, we played half court.  We divided into two teams — shirts and skins.  Of course, I was always shirts.  I could play competitively with the guys.  It’s just that we played by pick-up rules and not official rules and that kept me from trying out for the school team.


Bring it on.

I thought about basketball tryouts last week when I received my first official rejection letter.

I had submitted two chapters from my memoir for publication.  An on-line magazine turned me down because my piece didn’t fit with the editorial focus of their upcoming issue.  At least that’s what they said.

Here’s the weird part: I felt something close to excitement upon reading the rejection letter.  It made me feel like I was in the game, that I was trying and not lying to myself about being too busy or not ready or not good enough or too tired or too short or too whatever.

Rejection.  Who knew it could feel almost good?

20 responses to “Why rejection is good

  1. Funny isn’t it? .. only real authors get rejections, ‘cos only real authors put themselves out there.

    Congratulations! 😀

  2. I just had a similar experience. I received my first rejection for my novel, and all at once I felt like I was part of the club! Might not feel as good a few rejections down the road, but right now I feel pretty good about it.

  3. Keep trying! Love your blog!

  4. It’s a milestone of sorts. 🙂

  5. Congratulations on putting yourself out there–trying, not lying! You are an inspiration.

    • Aw shucks. Just remember that a year ago I wasn’t doing any writing. Guess I learned from the best. Here’s to writing and submitting and ignoring those negative voices in our heads.

  6. I’m new here and am trying to catch up on your old posts as well as reading new ones. I had to comment on this one, so honest and so true. All the excuses we come up with in our heads for not trying to avoid failing, when actually failing is part of the process of growing/achieving/getter better etc.
    Love your blog and your honesty and am looking forward to the memoir already

    • Thanks, Anne. Good to have you here. I guess at one point or another we’ve all opted not to participate to avoid facing our fears. It feels so much better to follow through regardless of those negative voices in our heads.

  7. Couldn’t agree with you more and at that middle age time of life (im 47…) I think you get to that stage where you just thing ‘stuff it Im going to have ago at X and to hell with it’ its very liberating if you can have the courage to just take that first step.

  8. Great post. I look forward to getting my first rejection letter now!

  9. It seems like every successful author has a collection of rejection letters, and nearly every beautiful famous novel or book carries a history of rejection (or being ignored) before it finds its readers. At writing conferences, editors say only about ten percent of the authors they invite to submit queries actually follow up with the submission. It’s a funny element of our art form, or maybe all art forms that try to find an audience. Congratulations, and here’s to many more submissions!

    • Hmmm … That 10 percent figure is interesting. I think we all aspire to be published authors but get scared when we get close to realizing that dream. The human mind is a fascinating thing.

  10. Very true – and thank goodness. Human foibles make for interesting stories, in memoir and fiction!

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