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Accepting rejection and eating the cookie crumbles

I was trying to corral the kids into the kitchen for lunch when I heard the shuffle of heavy feet and the clank of metal on my front porch. I glanced out the front door window in time to see my mailman already trudging back down my walkway to his truck. A large manila envelope jutted conspicuously from my box.

I paid it little mind. There were kids ignoring me and grilled cheese burning; the yellow already darkening into a nice crisp brown that no one would eat but me. Removing it, I slid another slice of cheese onto a fresh piece of bread and placed it in the toaster. I had already used the skillet to make eggs this morning; there would be no buttery pan-fried grilled cheese until I did the dishes.

As I absently peeled and sliced apples, placing the scoffed at skin in my mouth, I wondered about the package. Had I ordered something from the Gap? Amazon? I couldn’t remember. I did order cookies, but that came in a box from UPS. What could it…


It was what I had been waiting for, for over a month. Only, I knew before even opening it that it wouldn’t be what I had hoped. The envelope was too thick. In fact, if it had been good news there wouldn’t be an envelope shoved in my mailbox at all. It would be a phone call.

I finished making the kids’ lunch; ignoring their whiny pleas for more milk and attention and anxiously retrieved the package. It held the weight of hundreds of pages of devotion and hard work, of many late nights and early mornings blissfully obsessed.

Normally, I’d leave the envelope on the dining room table and stare it down for a few hours; building up the negativity in my head, making it real, understanding it, while still somehow holding out the hope in my heart that it wasn’t true. That it was in fact just protocol to return a manuscript along with a glowing letter of acceptance.

Impulsively, I ripped open the package. Then, breathing deeply, I gave myself a minute to process.

It was exactly as I expected. Rejection.

I had a flashback of my younger self in the exact same position. Different house, less wrinkles, eyes wider, but yes, me, holding another heavy yellow envelope to the same unfortunate end.

I sighed with disappointment, and then sucked it in and up.

“Anyone want more grilled cheese?” I asked, returning to my real life; the noisy kitchen, the dishes in the sink. Who needs legitimacy and acceptance? Who needs dreams realized? I was needed right here and right now.

Three animated little faces completely ignored me.

“Um, boys?

I watched them chewing their sandwiches, talking over one another, my youngest practically standing on his chair in his inability to contain his energy. It was like I didn’t even exist.

It was too much.

“Who wants cookies?” I blurted out suddenly and all three faces snapped to attention.

“Cookies!” They chanted merrily and my youngest ran over to hug around my legs. My other boys joined in and soon we were one clump of bodies jumping gleefully.

Finally, I was feeling some love.

And it was a good thing because I was about to cry.


About Ice Scream Mama

Mama to 3 boys, wife to Mr. Baseball and daughter of a sad man. I have a double scoop every day.

78 responses »

  1. I must say, I’ve never had a manuscript returned or such a personalized and helpful rejection later. So, congrats on that! Keep trying!

  2. Hang in there. The best is yet to come! And remember- those boys need you. 🙂

  3. I’m not sure if it is more comforting to have a personalized rejection or not, but it does seem like the editor took time in crafting the letter.

  4. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–come on over and check out my (thick) rejection pile. Then check out book numero tres in my very own series…released this very day. Keep on keepin’ on, my friend! xoxo

  5. That’s like the best rejection letter I’ve ever seen, honestly! They usually don’t even take the time to throw it in the mail for me. They send me an email that says.. “uhhh no” lol It’s going to happen for you, I just know it! And my kids don’t listen to me either. Cookies, definitely help.

  6. Keep at it! I love your writing and think you’re extremely talented. It’s just a hard market to break into.

  7. My first wife self-published a newsletter on spiritual themes. It was quite good, and despite it not being well worn territory in her niche, suffered through many rejection letters. We mutually decided to make due with a more modest income (mine) to support her work as a writer and to stay home with our two daughters. I was her patron semi-saint for years. It would break my heart to see her twist in the wind with even the kindest, most helpful of rejection letters. It got to be I could tell when I walked in the door at times that one of THOSE letters must have come.

    She published articles, got invited to speak (at which she is also quite accomplished), and it wasn’t the same as getting “her book” out there. Finally, the big day came. It was a yes. Her book was to be published by Nelson (respectable in religious circles). They did a fine job with cover and promotion. She was getting a front page ditty (whatever it’s called) on a catalog of new books and old. The day of vindication had come.

    And, there was this “yes, but.” It sold 250 copies. Due to it not taking off, it was not sold after a year. There was another round of rejection. We have grown far apart in the decade following our divorce. She is still trying to no avail to get that second book published, still produces her newsletter, still writes well, writing a blog for the local newspaper.

    In conclusion, …..

    • i know… it’s a journey… and even if you get to what you think is your happy ending, it may not be so happy. i guess, the answer is to just keep writing because you love it, and hoping because, why not. 🙂

      • Well, it can be more than a one-hit wonder, and if the satisfaction lies not in doing what you do for its own sake, what is it for, that is not mean to be a rhetorical question, and it may be meant more for me than for you :~}

  8. did somebody say COOKIES? 😉 seriously, i’m in awe of you for even getting a manuscript out there to receive such an awesome rejection letter. keep on keeping on, woman. you’re going places!

    • ha! i totally appreciate that but it seems the only place i’m going right now is to the dry cleaner, the bank and the library to pick up a few new books for my kids. maybe i’ll stop at dunkin donuts, there’s a place i’m always happy to go. 😉

  9. I totally hear you that rejection sucks. I really do. And, I pray to get that nice of a letter when I send my book out. Seriously. It’s a big deal for someone to read your book, much less tell you where to take it or what is missing. That’s huge. I have no doubt your book will be published and I bet it’s fun as hell. Go you with the manuscript!!!! oxoxoxo

    • well, hopefully you’ll get a letter of acceptance… and me too someday. but often it feels like so much work just to keep trying against a bunch of closed doors. maybe i don’t feel strong enough about it. i don’t know…

  10. Oh hon, I’m so sorry. Rejection is no fun. I’d have cried on the spot.
    Although I agree with some of the commenters; this is a thoughtful rejection letter, which is a good thing. Keep plugging it – I have a good feeling about it. 🙂

  11. Oh, you need a big hug from all your boys! 🙂

  12. WAIT. Secrets of the Suburbs? I want to buy it from you and read it after just reading the title!

  13. Looking on the bright side, there was some really positive feedback in the letter. Hang on in there, someone will see your potential eventually. It’s such a hard area to break into. x

    • thank you. it’s so hard. it’s like every door is closed and locked. but on the rare occasion when you feel one open a crack, i think the rejection seems even bigger because it feels like the only opportunity you’ll ever have.

  14. I think it’s great that you sent it in!!! That is a huge step in and of itself!! Sending hugs!! xo

  15. Their loss! Remember when one of the big publishers rejected Harry Potter….
    There’s a place for your book out there and in the meantime revel in being loved by the boys.

  16. How about an ebook? You can publish it on your own right? I have no experience in this matter but all rejections hurt. *Hugs Just keep on keepin on! The right time (and awesome publisher) will come!

  17. Groan!!!! So sorry! But you’ve written IT, which is more than most of us can say.

    But what ALL of us can say is: “Keep Calm & Carry Chocolate.”

  18. It took lots of effort to write, and your heart is in it, so keep up the great attitude and effort, andkeep going for it, send it out again and hope for better reception! And get your hugs when the cookies are being handed out! Best wishes!

    • Yes I agree with your comment about writing being work. Even OK, much less good writing is hard work. Getting said what is speaking inside in ways that reflect the nuance and meaning and significance of the matter in head or heart or hand is no small matter. People who don’t understand that are people who do not attempt to be clear or write, etc. Seems to me from the good bit of feedback ICM is getting she has a very good reception. It’s just not from particular publishers. This is the first time I have read her blog.

      I also agree with gathering in and savoring the hugs and the cookies, not just those being handed out within her household, but the many of you who seem to be serving her on line as well. Now, I’m going to look up aishasoasis that has to be a word. I bought a “compact” oxford dictionary three months ago on eBay in part to replace the one my 2nd ex took from me and sold at a yard sale, and in part because I fancied myself getting back into my poetry. Pain of the second marriage and its demise squelched my muse, after the delight of its beginning was the last time I wrote profusely. The words seemed to take control of me, they flowed, it was not so much of an effort. But as with the romantic element of new love, so with words and their writing, they require far more effort in order to show themselves in (not sure what description to use here – here’s where some effort is required) meaningful ? ways

      • Lol Aisha’sOasis is more a place than a word, and more a state of mind than a place, by the looks of my gardening at the moment! But you know pain is an emotion than needs an outlet to heal… look at the poetry of Thomas Hardy after his wife passed away, talk about romantic words flowing profusely. Just bookmark an online dictionary, and pour your pain out in words – It seems like you probably have lots of meaningful things to say, and beautiful words to write. Go for it!

  19. I’ve been thinking about this post a lot today, and I’m so sorry about the rejection. I think if it were me, I’d take the manuscripts you have under the bed and self-publish them somehow. That way, at least they aren’t under there clogging you up. Then, if it were me, I’d start on my next book! And I want to read the sexy book, too!

    • well, thank you. you gave me a smile. i’m considering it. it’s all work it seems, the trying to get published, the networking, even self publishing, it’s all work. maybe i’m just lazy… i really could sit and write all day, but the other stuff… i’m no good. i’m not really sure i’m good at the writing part either. i’m not bad, but that doesn’t mean i’m good, you know..?

  20. That sucks. Ugh. But the whole point of writing is still the writing, no? That’s what gives us the love, all the time. So keep going. KEEP GOING! Most people don’t even know that kind of joy.

  21. whisperingwriter

    Cookies make everything better.

    I’ve written books before and have been rejected many times. Yours is the most personalized that I’ve ever seen though. I’m still working on finding an agent but receive a lot of “thanks, but no thanks” messages.

  22. Try not to let this bit of rejection get to you. It’s just a small bump in the road. You’re a good writer, keep writing. The fact that you wrote a novel, sent it to a publisher, and got a personal response is very inspiring. Rock on Icescreammama!!

  23. You are a wonderful writer and the fact that you could accomplish writing it and sending it in goes to show that you will get there. I agree with the others that into did come across as a very detailed and personal letter which should be a good sign, right? Keep your chin up and enjoy the cookies. 🙂

  24. Isn’t it terrible how you anticipate the mail daily as a writer just for SOME sort of news, but as soon as it arrives, you really wish it hadn’t? Sometimes I dream about how it must feel to a writer such as Neil Gaiman. I’m sure his mail is full of all sorts of interesting things and never thick envelopes of disappointment…

    One day, though! Keep trying. Having finished your book and sending it out, you’re already ahead of so many 🙂

    Good luck!

  25. You are so brave to firstly put yourself out there and then to share your rejection letter. Keep the faith, Harry Potter was rejected by a dozen publishers! We all want to be recognised for our effort as it legitimises our time in writing the manuscript. Your time will come – hang in there. And while you’re waiting, enjoy the cookies! 🙂

    • i appreciate you saying that. other’s have said that as well, but i don’t really see what’s so brave about it. i mean, i think it’s a decent manuscript, but honestly, anyone could submit crap, right?
      but yeah, i’m going to regroup here and charge on… but tonight, cookies – in ice cream!

  26. If you DO decide to self publish, I will design your book jacket for free. Do it. xxooh

  27. Ouch. But it seemed to be a pretty positive review, despite the rejection part. And from what I understand (and has probably been mentioned above a few times) rejection means you finally made it as a writer! You just have to keep trying. Have a good cry, eat lots of cookies (and ice cream, duh), and send it back out! You are a gifted writer. Keep at it!

  28. That was the nicest, considerate, and thorough rejection I’ve ever read. I’m sorry for the rejection. I’ve received many myself. A friend of mine wrote a couple of books but wanted to look for a new publisher for a new novel he wrote. I remember him posting his rejection for us to read. It still stings — even when you have books out there.

    Keep going. Don’t stop. (grin)


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