The Big Boo–Rejection
Kavita Das wrote an excellent article for The Atlantic about how we romanticize writers’ rejections. Many top-notch writers endure a lot of it before moving on to other things/smaller publishers, and she makes the point that the fault lies not with the work, but with the publishing houses. She lands this at racism’s door, but I’d add homophobia, too. The numbers of times I’ve heard that a work of mine is too “avant garde” or that it would be “better suited to a [journal/publisher] with a more eclectic list” or “we published a lesbian a few months ago” are legion.
We shouldn’t be glad that prejudice spurs fine writers to almost quit or to actually quit, as I did. Rather we should expand ourselves, and trust white readers to read outside their own comfort zones. Rejecting well-written works? A disfavour we do writers/ourselves. Potential is soured. The books that would have been finished with a little encouragement and support die in drafting or stuck in a drawer.
Pubs, if you think writers don’t recognize phobic rejections, you’re quite wrong. We may not call you on it to your faces, but we sure do talk about it, pretty much forever.
And it doesn’t serve you.