Why having your creative work rejected is worse than being dumped

‘So how many copies of my book do you want me to bring around?’ After years of hustling in the creative industry, I was really good at sounding bubbly and carefree, even after a week of unreturned phone calls from my book stockist.

‘Uh… well… look, you obviously didn’t get what I was saying in the email. I was trying to let you down gently. I loved your first book, I really did… but I just don’t feel your second book is right for this bookshop.’

‘But what’s wrong with it?’

‘Oh it’s not you. It’s probably me. I can’t read very well. Haha!’

I don’t answer because why should I make it any easier on him? Besides, if I got mad he might return my first book. I imagined all that stock –sitting at home not getting any younger. Taking up floor space. Floor space that I needed on Friday nights to sway to the tune of Burt Bacharach clutching a glass of red wine.

He correctly interpreted by silence and continued babbling, ‘You’ll probably sell a million copies and I’ll beg you to fill my shelves. Haha!’

I civilly said thank you and good bye, even though I was confused as hell but then I rang a friend who explained that ‘filling his shelves’ was not a euphemism but that didn’t take away the sting.


Dear Ms Shek,

Thank you for submitting to the  ________ film festival. We received a high volume of entries this year. We regret to inform you that your film has not been accepted. We hope you continue your work and good luck in the future.

I’d been rejected by film festivals at least a hundred times at this stage of my career but I read this rejection email at least a dozen times because I was positive I did not APPLY TO THIS FESTIVAL. It’s bad enough getting rejections to festivals I pay money for but to be rejected like this, out of the blue. I wrote them a vitriolic, sarcastic reply and two days later, received this in my inbox:

Dear Ms Shek

All entries that were submitted into the _______ film festival was automatically entered into our festival as we are the sister event with the same festival co-ordinator. In this way, we can provide a better service to filmmakers by increasing their exposure. We hope you continue your work and good luck in the future.

Sigh. This must be what it’s like to be rejected by a guy and then just as you’re picking yourself out of the gutter, his brother runs you down in a bogan-mobile   – just to keep you in your place.


‘I think you’re very capable but I don’t think this job’s right for you. You’d be bored of us in a week. The other candidate is … better suited. We have more challenging work coming up in a couple of months. I really want to work with you. I’ll call you.’

Of course he didn’t. Maybe because the more challenging project fell through. Maybe because the younger other candidate was so comfortable with taking orders, she managed to hold down both jobs without once complaining that she was overworked and underpaid.


I thought I was getting pretty good at handling rejections but after a particularly bad one this week, I curled up in bed for a bit, ate chocolate but only because it was too early for wine.


One thought on “Why having your creative work rejected is worse than being dumped

  1. Commiserations. Rejections of any sort are never easy. That said, I’d rather know my work had been rejected than be left dangling by a thin thread of hope, while waiting, waiting, waiting for a response that never comes. What would we writers do without chocolate and writing buddies?

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