Encouragement through Rejection

Sometimes, we all need an encouraging hug.It might be strange to combine “rejection” and “encouraging.” They seem antithetical to each other. I suppose they usually are, but I’ve been remembering one of the earliest rejections of my work, and I think it was encouraging.

I say “think” because I don’t remember all the details. I was nine years old, and I decided to proffer the school library with my first book. Hand-written, complete with my own illustrations (Now why does that sound familiar? Oh, right. I do the same thing here, although the words are typed, and the illustrations are edited in Photoshop first.). Even better, my book came with a stapled binding and a construction-paper cover.

Naturally, the librarian rejected my book. I don’t remember what she said, but I do know that my work wasn’t accepted. I also know she must have said something encouraging because I didn’t avoid her for the rest of third grade. I still enjoyed going to the library, and I still greeted her.

I look back at that incident and wonder about the details I didn’t know and can’t remember. I wonder if my mom encouraged me to submit my work even though she knew rejection and failure were the inevitable outcomes. I wonder if she warned the librarian of my impending visit. I wonder what the librarian thought. Did she have a response for me immediately? Did she give me the appearance of consideration by sending me away so that she could consider my work? I’m almost certain that’s what happened, but I may be inserting a little more fiction than necessary into my memory. I also wonder about how I reacted. Did I cry? Was I embarrassed? I probably was embarrassed, and I probably did cry. I know, though, that the rejection was encouraging because I kept writing. I continued to find pleasure in it. I still do.

Have you ever been the recipient of encouraging rejection? Did it help you to continue creating?


  1. I know that feeling. About a year ago, when I was first going to Chamber of Commerce mixers promoting website design, my business was ripped apart by a lady that was trying to “help” me understand what the impression my business card gave off. The card in question had my logo with “Killer Branding” written in a bloody font, like the top of my website.
    After recovering from that ego blow, I decided to go harder into refining the brand. She wasn’t anywhere close to my target audience anyways. Thus, now on business cards (and stickers), the dust bunnies are the prominent feature, which was lacking previously. Now, with a quick internet search, you’ll find the lovable dust bunnies more than the slogan, which is ultimately where the focus should be.

    •  @DustBunnyMafia That’s a perfect example of turning a rejection into a good thing, even though it seems to have been a brutal experience (Bloody, indeed.). I’m glad you were able to listen to her advice, to consider the merits of it, and to change accordingly. It can be hard to listen to unwelcome advice.
      Oh, side note! My new business cards are going to have my Write Right girl – the one that’s in the header – on them. =D

  2. Great story, Erin. You were an early entrepreneur, weren’t you? I would hope an elementary school librarian would be able to offer that delicate balance, laced with encouragement for a young student.
    Honestly, I can’t think of any encouraging rejection I’ve gotten. It’s either been acceptance or rejection. At least, if my memory serves me correctly. Perhaps I dismissed any encouraging rejection as insincere and blocked it from my memory? Hmmm…

    •  @WordsDoneWrite I hadn’t thought about the entrepreneurial role found in that story! How funny. Maybe I’m more of an entrepreneur than I ever thought.
      I think acceptance or rejection usually is the case. I’ve heard of some people receiving rejection letters asking them to submit work in a few months or to apply to the program in another year, but those letters are few and far between.
      Perhaps, too, it’s how we respond to rejection? Since I don’t remember everything that happened with the incident, it’s very likely that my mom turned it into a teaching moment in how to handle rejection correctly. Of course, I still struggle to respond to rejection appropriately, but that’s to be expected. Rejection hurts. 🙂

  3. Love this @Erin F. Such creativity at such an early age…the writing (pun intended) was on the wall wasn’t it?  As an aside…shame on that librarian for that rejection…what was important here was that she potentially thwarted the creative juices that were clearly starting to flow within you.  The outcome of this particular rejection could have been so much more devastating…like stopping you from ever doing creative writing or illustrations again.  People like you who learned at an early age how to turn rejection into lemonade are strong and amazing…people to be admired.  It is so much easier to wallow in self pity upon being rejected…it takes a big person to be able to see the “lesson” in the rejection and to move forward and not move under the covers in bed 😉
    That you moved forward ErinMFeldman  does not surprise me in the least!!

    •  @SocialMediaDDS  Hi Claudia!
      Thanks for the comment. I apologize for the following novella. 😉
      I was reading an article about how to encourage creativity in kids the other day. It’s older – 2010, I think – but I kept thinking I was reading about my own childhood. It talked about how parents needed to give their kids freedom while at the same time providing a foundation upon which kids could create. I know my mom provided both things for me and my brothers. She let us pursue our stories; she even let us take over half the house with some of our indoor tents (They were fabulous, by the way. I still have fond memories of our tents.). She then, of course, made us put our tent supplies away when it was time to do so. 🙂 As for the resilience, I don’t know if that’s a nature or nurture thing. It might be both. I do know that some of it was taught, again through my mom who didn’t allow pity parties about anything. Rejection hurts, though, some more than others, and I’ve been known to spend a few hours hiding under the covers and feeling very, very brittle. Fortunately, I usually have something that requires my attention, and I can’t allow the rejection or the hurt feelings to keep me from doing the other things that need to be done.
      Thanks for the xoxo. They always remind me of my poetry mentor from grad school. She always signed her name with them, too.