Dramatic Readings Of Rejection Letters to Gertrude Stein, Andy Warhol, and Nirvana

Studio 360

From New Hampshire Public Radio's Word of Mouth, hosted by Virginia Prescott

Nevermind the sentiment "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Rejection stings. For writers, it's also an unavoidable part doing business. Recently, Graywolf Press executive editor Jeff Shotts described the "terrible math" behind the publishing industry's notorious tendency of shutting down writers:

We accept under one-third of one percent of submissions that come in. Given those numbers, rejection letters are necessary, and they are, unfortunately, unexceptional. In 15 years in publishing, I have probably written more than 2,000 rejection letters.

Writers may also find some comfort in learning that even The Diary of Anne Frank was rejected by 16 separate publishing houses. (An editor at Knopf called it "dull.") Also dismissed were George Orwell's Animal Farm, and manuscripts by Jack Kerouac, Sylvia Plath, and in an infamously mocking rejection letter, Gertrude Stein.

Since so many rejection letters feel utterly impersonal, as though they were written by voiceless, faceless, robotic editors (most of them are in fact "form" letters derived from templates) Word of Mouth thought it would be fun to do dramatic readings of some of history's worst rejection letters --- sent to Stein, Nirvana, Andy Warhol, and a would-be artist for Disney (whose main shortcoming appears to be that she was female).

Letters read by Taylor Quimby, Zach Nugent, Andrew Parrella, and Logan Shannon.

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