How One Writer Turned Painful Rejection into Triumph

Carol Tice

Have you faced rejection as a writer that made you just feel like giving up?

If so, I recently came across a story I just have to share with you.

I am lucky enough to live near a very fabulous and well-supported public library. Our regional library system puts out a substantial quarterly newspaper full of interviews with local authors, which I usually devour.

One story in the most recent issue knocked me flat.

It was an interview with Marissa Meyer, author of the hot new young-adult series Cinder (Book One of The Lunar Chronicles) and its forthcoming sequel, Scarlet, due out next year.

In the first novel, Cinderella is an android in a dystopian future, and she holds the fate of the world in her hands. It sounds awesome — can’t wait to check it out!

But that wasn’t the amazing part

In her interview, Meyer related that she faced a lot of rejection in her early writing career, before finding a major print publisher for Cinder (it’s an imprint of Macmillan).

In fact, at one point she had entered a short-story writing contest with a tale that was the germ for her hit series…but failed to win.

She later learned she was one of only two people who had entered!

She had a 50 percent chance of winning, and still lost out.

Now, you’ve got to admit that is flat-out painful to know.

What was her reaction to this embarrassing defeat?

“My favorite part of this story is that, in the end, only two stories were submitted to that fateful writing contest…and mine didn’t win! But thank goodness I came away from it with such a fun idea.”

She suffered a truly embarrassing defeat…and still came away with the notion that she had a great idea. She moved forward immediately, emboldened to continue fleshing out her idea until it became not just a novel but a full-blown, four-book series.

If she’d been the sort of writer who implodes at every rejection letter, none of this would have ever happened. Her vision of a cyber-Cinderella would probably be at the bottom of a drawer somewhere, never to be enjoyed by anyone.

She wasn’t crushed

Fortunately, Meyer’s self-confidence and her belief in her skills as a writer weren’t altered by this contest defeat.

She held the keys to writing success in her hands:

  • Believe in yourself
  • Don’t worry too much about what others say
  • Keep writing
  • Don’t give up

Next time you get a rejection letter, give a thought to the fact that all writers are going through this. It’s not about you. And it’s really no big deal.

It doesn’t mean you should stop writing.

You just haven’t found where that piece of writing belongs yet. But there are always more places to try.

How have you transformed your writing rejection into success? Leave a comment and share your story.


  1. Anthony Dejolde

    16 publishers rejected A Time to Kill by John Grisham before he found an agent who eventually rejected him as well so by the looks of it, writers are bound to experience pain first before reaching nirvana.

    Carol, this reminder is right on time, I just got a note from Rock Solid Finance along the lines of “does not fit with my current guidelines”. The owner was so nice to explain why he can’t use my article now and proceeded to suggest some topics I can explore.

    Rejection is something that we have to get used to because we perpetually send editors pitches.

    Heck, we have to live with this fact.

  2. Erica

    To paraphrase something Stephen King states in his book “On Writing,” if you’re not getting rejected, you’re just not trying hard enough. Thanks Carol. Now, I’m going to get started on an idea I have for one of my favorite magazines. I’m probably going to get shot down, but that’s okay. I still like my idea and want to write it.

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