Rejected. Spurned. Snubbed. Repudiated.

A poetry site rejected seven poems I submitted for consideration. The editor thanked me for submitting my work and remarked that “It was a pleasure to read. However, we regret to say that it doesn’t quite fit our daily menu.”

Ouch. Seven rejections with one salvo.


The submission guidelines encouraged poets to send “your best work” since publishing space was tight.

Skeet GIF


Rejected AND repudiated. I felt like the clay target at a skeet shooting competition.





I read the editor’s email while sitting in the parking garage at work. Great. The news didn’t make my evil, boring, one-hour commute home any better. That’s when the self-examination began.


I recalled the twenty-five rejections I received last year after submitting my novel to agents. That was different: only one work was rejected. The poetry editor stamped REJECT on seven works! That means seven ego-deflating and self-confidence bruising broadsides in one sitting. I felt like Wile E. Coyote pummeled by seven anvils at once.

Once I made it home after the longest commute of my life, I sat at my desk to work on the revision to my novel. The poetry rejection stayed in my mind. I tapped out a few dozen words in my novel but didn’t feel like writing. I began to question whether my novel was any good. I told myself people would probably think my story was stupid. I wondered what made me think I could write. I thought “Why bother?”

It’s common for writers to fall into crises of confidence. It doesn’t take much for us to question ourselves and our abilities. Writer’s block, negative critique and faint praise, lack of topics, ennui, sloth, other writers’ success, all have an affect on our writing process and how we view ourselves as writers.

My writing journey began four years ago after years of false starts. I once told my literature professor there was a story inside me waiting to come out. Twenty-five years later I wrote the story, and twenty-five rejections later I’m still working on the novel.

It’s my dream. It is something I have wanted from the day I read Rin Tin Tin as a little boy in the Netherlands. It’s something I want every time I read a novel today. If all those other people can do it, I can too. I want to be the next Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dickens, Twain, all writers do.

But I’ll settle – no, I’ll be happiest –Β  for the opportunity to sign my name,

William C. Pennington, Author.

46 thoughts on “Rejected. Spurned. Snubbed. Repudiated.

  1. First and foremost – you must let the rejection letters roll off your back, [or paste them to the wall like an accent, fashion-statement for the room.]. Then, remember why you write – for yourself, the money, the prestige or a specific audience. This isn’t all going to change your mood, but it just affect how your re-edit the novel. If you wrote to the best of your ability – then maybe you just haven’t found the right publisher.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. 1. I often find words you pen well written and I’d like to make them into an inspirational poster. 2. I enjoy all your works, even the ones I don’t quite get. 3. You are fun to read! 4. I enjoy how you put phrases together. They often shine in a dark space. 5. You put humor in sentences and bring energy to this venue. 6. I am sad if I don’t see something from you in my daily menu of good things to read. 7. Words from you are one of the better things on the net. (hope this helps make you feel a bit better. thinking mayhap GP Cox is right, you haven’t found the right publisher yet. I could hook you up with some indie authors!)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You’re clearly dedicated to your writing – both poetry and your novel – so don’t let a few rejections (no matter how many) get you down. Many massively successful works have been turned down many times before they first found a publisher who was willing to work with them. So keep on trying and keep on searching! Plus, of course, let us all know when it does finally happen!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Your honesty reminds me that I began writing on a daily basis – oh God! – seventeen years ago. For several years I attempted to finish a novel. Then, seven or eight years after that beginning, I realized I was meant to write short pieces that in some way resembled journal entries (my narrators became journal writers). Five or so years later I discovered that I loved to fit everything into one paragraph, and I’ve been writing single-paragraph pieces ever since. Writing is a mysterious journey, isn’t it? All I know is that if I go a few days without writing I become difficult to be around. Your determination is inspiring!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Never give up! The poems might not be right for them, but maybe for someone else.

    Rejection is part of the business, a sucky part, but a part.

    Don’t give up.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Awww… that was so so so mean. 7?? Where has his milk of human kindness gone? I shed a tear or two reading this. I could feel your pain. But you know Will, don’t give up. It’s ok to be disheartened, downcast, that’s human. But please don’t give up. It only takes one yes and…. your dreams begin materialise. You will find that yes, if you keep knocking. It’s so sad how they encourage you to write and yet reject every effort you make.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. JK Rowlings had 16 rejections before deciding to self-publish … and once it was a ‘hit’ she got a publisher because she just couldn’t keep up the demand for reprints! Which clearly demonstrates that editors missed a gold mine …

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Sometimes we just need to put it into perspective … you write well so success will come. When I submit poems I ponder then for ages but people seem to much prefer my daily posts that I write in 5-10 minutes. Maybe we don’t need to try so hard?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree about the short posts. I don’t know if it has to do with attention span, rushing to breeze through new posts, or something else, but short ones are more popular. I have reached the point that I feel like something is missing, both for me and my readers, if I don’t post every day. If I can write 200 words a day on my blog I’m happy.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’ve got there also Will, it’s nice to be read! Have done some freelance writing that wasn’t what they claimed and prefer to blog … the feedback is much appreciated.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I can’t speak to the poetry rejection since I’m not a poet, but the novel rejection – Yup. More than 25, that’s for sure. To be honest, it’s not always a reflection of our work. Agents have different tastes and pet peeves, they wake up cranky, have too much on their desks, or are in the mood to read something we didn’t just write. I found a publisher and six books later canceled all my contracts and self-published. A bazillion times happier now. So, write because you love. Write the best darn book you can – no short cuts. And if it gets rejected, remember that it’s not the end of the world – it may just be the beginning. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you D, for the encouraging words. The agent rejections weren’t bad – I expected them.
      I keep Hemingway’s admonition in mind:”All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” I’m still learning how to do that.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I know the feeling.. though I haven’t started on my book yet, but it sure is a dream, and the rejections for publishing poems, have gone through that, infact even mocked by a locally known poet who doesn’t write english but regional language, that also was a setback. But I think I’ve moved on much farther, as per him my poem wasn’t a poem, but mere lines with no meaning, no rhymes.
    I did not settle then. And I choose not to settle now or anytime soon. What we writers write has a meaning , despite what others think. Sometimes its all about convincing them to see the vision we see.. or leave it at that. I do hope that your novel and peoms be showcased well in the future. God bless you and your work. Also this write up. Was something I needed to read at the right time. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m happy you took away a positive from my story – it was intended to be positive and humorous, but I was worried it would be seen as whiny.
      You have a great attitude. Never give up. Gain strength and confidence from others’ criticism. Maybe that poet did you a favor. It took me a long time to get comfortable with posting poetry – you never know what folks consider good or bad poetry, but after a while, you get better. You just have to keep writing.
      Thank you for following me. I look forward to reading your work. πŸ™‚ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I know this feeling all too well, Will. 116 of my submissions have been rejected this year (with more to come, no doubt, before the end of the year). I shudder to think how many poems that number includes. Eek!

    Liked by 1 person

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