The Power of No

Tuesday, August 27, 2019
Getting a rejection from an agent or a publisher is disheartening, for sure. A writer spends months or years on a project, gives birth to it, submits it... and it's rejected. And rejected. And rejected.

Definitely a bummer.

However, sometimes "no" is a good thing. A powerful thing... in a good way.

Running into a wall might make a writer fall down and give up. But, facing an obstacle might just increase a writer's resolve. It might just make a writer dig in their heels, resulting in them becoming more perseverant.

That's what a string of no's did for me recently. A bunch of generic rejections, along with a couple of agents/publishers who told me I didn't really have the right to tell my story, literally brought me to tears. (To find out why I was told it wasn't my story to tell, check out this short movie I made about the experience.)

And then I got mad. Not angry at anyone in particular. Just mad that the universe was trying to smash the love for my character into smithereens.

Which made me dig in. My determination ramped up so high, only dogs could hear the frenzied shriek.

On a interview, I saw Kris Jenner say something profound. (I know, I know. Lots of people might instantly dismiss the mother who spawned six Kardashian/Jenner kids, considering how starving the family is for media attention. I get it. But the woman knows her stuff. She's business savvy. And she knows how to succeed.)

This is what she said that struck me as brilliant:

"If somebody says no, you're talking to the wrong person."
                                                                                                          ---Kris Jenner

Each no I get means I submitted to the wrong agent. The wrong publisher. They aren't the ones who are open to my novel idea for a novel. They're not drawn to my protagonist like I am. They're not eager to have my story told.

In my research about facing rejection (I'm a glutton for punishment. Not only am I immersed in rejection, I'm also researching it.) I found this article.  As you lick your wounds and prepare to dig in, to persist, you might find it helpful.

The tough part--of course--is to find the right person. Finding the right publisher or agent for your manuscript/essay/story/poem takes a thick skin. It takes determination. And it takes a belief in your piece.

Bonnie Raitt sings, "I can't make you love me." As writers, we can't make a publisher love our work. All we can do is keep trying to find the publisher who does...

Sioux Roslawski is a novelist wannabee. One day, when she finds the right person for her manuscript, she'll no longer be mired in rejection. (In the photo to the right, the bubbling mud pots of Iceland are in the background. Currently, Sioux's stubborn perseverance is bubbling and popping.) She has a newly-launched website. It's  still in the work-in-progress stage, still new, so check it out (and be patient).


Joanne said...

As always, Sue, your work is powerful.

Joanne said...

PS: Just sent you a message via your website. Pls. let me know if you got it. Thanks!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

It is so easy to give up, even if that just means moving on to the next piece of writing. Thank you for the nudge!

Renee Roberson said...


This is all so true. For me, the power of no goes back to my childhood. My parents (who never went to college and worked blue collar jobs) assumed I would have the same fate. Every time they told me I couldn't do something, I set out to prove them wrong. I still get fired up by "no" to this day. I'm glad it's done the same for you.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Joanne--I did not get it. But my website is still in the process--as am I ;)--so perhaps it's there and I can't figure out how to access it.

And thanks.

Sue--Now if I can just figure out how to nudge myself...

Renee--I imagine if we got together, you and I would make a combustible combination. ;)

Angela Mackintosh said...

Sioux, your post got me fired up! You're so right. And it's rebounding from a no and believing in your work that makes a writer a writer. So many people give up! You just inspired me to resubmit an essay that just received a rejection to another publication. Thank you! :)

Margo Dill said...

Sioux: No one has the right to tell you that it is not your story to tell. Are the people of Greenwood still alive (I can't remember the year)? ARe they writing books about it as touching and well-done as yours? I know what those agents are saying, but OH MY GOSH, this #ownvoices thing is really going far. I think it will come back to the middle a bit as everything does. Seriously, are we going to have 3rd graders write books like Clementine because it's about a 3rd grader?

Anyway, hang in there.

Cathy C. Hall said...

"No" definitely pushes certain people to keep going. Am I surprised that you're one of those people, Sioux?

No. :-)

loonyhiker said...

I'm so glad you don't take no for an answer. Keep trying! I loved your movie! I can't wait to read about Henry!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Ang--I'm glad you're resubmitting. Be the Little Engine 2.0---You KNOW you can, you KNOW you can.

Margo--I'm still hangin'... ;)

Cathy--Yeah. I'm a rebel WITH a cause.

Pat--Thanks for your encouragement. I can't wait for everyone to read about Henry.

Pat Wahler said...

Yes, yes, and more yes on this post. What a great way to look at something writers must deal with in abundance...the sting of rejection. Love it!

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Great post, and a reminder I needed to see today. Thanks. :)

Mary Horner said...

This is a great post, Sioux, just what I needed to hear today. You always have something profound to share with writers, so to me, you are already a success.

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