Your Not So Mutual Relationship With Rejection Letters

Your Not So Mutual Relationship With Rejection Letters


For the purpose of keeping things real, I refuse to add a single quote by writers who have won a single award, or any poet that has been locally or internationally recognized. Let’s face it, you many never make it as a writer. You may never have that big break you hoped for and here’s me –a writer without the big break -telling you that you may never be Stephen King. You were not Anisa at the age of ten and you won’t be Bukowski at the age of fifty. And stop that thought, you won’t be Hemmingway if you shoot a bullet through your own brain at your own desk. 

Let me tell you now that I am not an excellent writer –if such an arrogant term exists -I am one who spends more time on the emotions and the characters than rhyme and metaphors. If that isn’t bad enough in a world where all the good stories have already been told, it is definitely a deal breaker in the twenty first century where every man with two legs can afford time, second hand books and a UK used laptop. In case you didn’t get that, I am telling you that the girl with the afro curls sitting in front of you as we speak is a writer, the boy who pretends he got surgery on his ankles so he doesn’t have to wear shoes is a writer and that girl who actually came out number one on the oloso list (and you know it’s true because yeah, you have been on the receiving end of her skills in year two) is also a writer! 

Despite all this, if you still feel as if you desperately need to make it as a writer, have your voice heard and all that, here is a few tips I have not followed and well, look at me now. 

WHAT YOU SHOULD BELIEVE: Now that I have gone and broken the news to you, I will borrow -without quoting -the overused words of some of the blasted popular writers. It’s actually true what they say that you should read wide. Read wide. Read good books, Pulitzer, Hult Prize, Noble Prize winning ones because let’s face it, your six years old sister may be better than most authors on Wattpad. And if you want to prove me wrong, read these books. You will feel more confident about what you write. You should rather read articles on The NewYorker, Kalahari Review, Brittle Papers -google the rest. 

What you should NOT believe is that you don’t need to change a thing about how you write. Sigh. This is a scam. You need to in fact train your brain to think about punctuations, metaphors, puns, comedy, proverbs, zeugma and anadiplosis. Anadiplosis may sound a bit farfetched but I have my reasons. You need to read Camun, Rushdie, Emecheta, Bronte sisters, Amadi. Tariq Ali, Arundhati Roy, Chimamanda, Soyinka, Murakami, Morrison –you get the point -even if you don’t understand them. One day you will understand them, hopefully. You, if you are nodding along to this article, absolutely won’t enjoy them but eventuary…you at least need to know which of them you can bear being like. 

Now I am not saying you need to copy anyone, God forbid you land in some Chinese hell of your own. There’s a world of difference between adopting a model and being a copycat. And well “Wattpaders” (staylites and alumni) should know.

Let me also tell you that if you are a pure romance writer, and a reader, you will probably make it. You will on paper, you will. But the problem will appear when you attend literary shows where the big grammarians, deep philosophers, feminists and Afrocentric writers all are and you mention your genre and get the shrug. No one may tell you then, so it’s better if I let you know, no one thinks you are writing important stuff.  Bombs are exploding in Bornu, Xenophobia in South Africa, and rape in the country, racial capitalism in the world and what? You are writing about two people who learn and grow through each other? It is unfair, I know, but shit happens and no one else will clean it up for you. So if you are going to be writing it anyway, you had better do a very fine job of it. At least, you have the majority advantage in the market. All the big writers can well, fork themselves. 

EDITING (and formatting) is a pain in every body part but there’s no getting out of it. And I should know.  You may be good but you are not that good puhlease. Edit and edit and edit. I have heard my popular writer friends tell me it’s their secret. And we can trust them on this at least. Follow the specific rules of formatting on the website you are submitting to. Where there’s none, use the standard format. Editors are swamped and underpaid and have severe cases of hair lice. You don’t really think they haven’t seen your story before, do you? The least you can do is package. That way, you can at least be honoured with a rejection letter –if you are unlucky.  Let’s thank God for the computer era. Can you imagine having to handwrite your whole book all over again -if you are really good -twice? I shiver. 

Here are a few tips from me to you. If you think it’s too much work, I honestly think it’s not a bad idea to quit writing. Or you can just be like me and stubbornly keep writing. Save this article so you can come back to it in four months though. If you don’t think it’s too much work, cheers to you and fame. And well, the stalking rejections.


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  1. Interesting read. Really impressive. One of our most sacred missions at Tell! is to help writers like you become the best version of themselves and share stories and ideas that matter!

    We would be kickstarting our Tell! Writers Programme which is a Talent accelerator for Content developers by the first week of November. You would receive an email notification from us. Kindly do well to apply.

    Kindest Regards,
    The Tell! Team

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