Serena J. Cavanaugh :: Blog

February 24, 2009

The Good Rejection

Filed under: The Writing Life — Tags: , , , , , , — serena @ 6:46 pm

Good rejection? Prior to my recent and first experience of a “good rejection,” I too would have scoffed at the very idea. How could a rejection be good? It’s like having a good nightmare. A good bump on the head. A good stubbed toe. A good hangover.

There is no such thing. And even if there was such a thing, it would be one of the detestable oxymorons that should not exist, like Porche SUVs. Is there really a need for Mercedes pick-up trucks?

I have been sending out queries regarding my novel to various well researched agents. I sent the query emails (one at a time, because I have an unrealistic optimism) and within hours I received the form letter rejections. One was sent, not by the agent himself, but by his assistant. I felt snubbed, not just rejected.

These were bad rejections.

There came a day when I opened my email account and there before me was a good rejection. Then, oh then, I knew that there truly are oxymorons that are wonderful to discover, and like the owners of BMW station wagons, I was oh-so-glad to find its otherwise ridiculous existance.

This is proof that over time when it is bad enough, bad isn’t so bad. Isn’t it a relief to know that when life really takes a dump on your dinner plate, you’ll start Pollyanna-ing it – naturally finding the good in everything? Perhaps a kernal of undigested corn.

The human experience, if nothing else, is resilient.

My good rejection said simply that my writing was good, but the story didn’t resonate. I take that to mean my sample chapters were enjoyed, but my synopsis sucked. Good. Rejection.

Besides writer, maybe only very unattractive men can truly grasp the concept of the good rejection.

What do you think? What kind of good rejections do you get?

What I am Reading

Shirley by Charlotte Bronte

The Hidden Treasure of Glaston by Eleanore M. Jewett

Nothing Remains the Same by Wendy Lesser


  1. The other type of “good rejection” is the job search one. I know a lot of people are probably experiencing these right now in these hard economic times. You send in your resume, the resume you’ve been slaving over and obsessing over, and then you wait and wait for them to get back to you. Sometimes they send you a form letter, “We’ll keep you’re resume on file,” most times they don’t send anything. But sometimes, you get an email or a call. Someone who cares you’re struggling. A thank you, a sorry, goodluck with your job search …. or, if you’re lucky, an “I liked your resume.”

    Comment by Stephanie — March 6, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

  2. The job search rejection, much like the search, can bring a wealth of good and bad rejections. In 2001, when the dot-com I was working for went under, I was out of work for six months. After three months of sending off coverletters and resumes, I got one reply and this was only to tell me that I forgot to change the company name in the “form letter” heading. Ouch! Talk about BAD rejection.

    Comment by serena — March 7, 2009 @ 1:20 pm

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