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I set an all-time record not long ago. In a span of twenty minutes, I received three rejections. Two were no-thank-you’s in response to essays I’d submitted to literary journals. One was a letter explaining that the highly acclaimed judge of the competition I’d entered had decided not to award a prize this year because no submission deserved one.

Now, we writers are poor, pathetic, pitiful, sensitive creatures who feel things deeply, so I had to spend a good part of that day feeling sorry for myself.

But then. I sat down at my desk and started writing again. I wrote because — well, because, deep down, I know that nothing I write is ever as wonderful or as terrible as I think it is. The megalomania and the despair are both part of the writing process. These feelings — in their glorious grandiosity and utter abjection — are not only normal; they’re useful. They keep us striving. They lure us back to the desk again and again.

I can revise this dreadful thing and make it better.


That last chapter I wrote was so fabulous, I’ll just write another one.

Here’s what else I know for sure: In the end, the true prize is losing ourselves in the absolute pleasure of finding one good word.


  • Paula says:

    Judy, you are the most emotionally honest person I know and it’s what I’ve always admired about you.
    It makes you a wonderful friend and you’ve been a huge influence in my life. I love your phrase “the absolute pleasure of finding one good word”. Thanks for sharing.

  • Judy Goldman says:

    Paula! This might be the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me! Really, thank you so much for your lovely words. I am just as glad to be your friend.

  • Wow, three in twenty minutes! And one of them such a slap in the face! I will remember this, when I get some rejections, and take comfort in knowing you had it worse. Unless of course I somehow manage to surpass this record, in which case I’ll claim bragging rights. :)

  • Judy Goldman says:

    Alysa, I’m not sure it’s a compliment that you’re impressed by my 3 rejections in 20 minutes! However, you ARE nice to comment, and I hope you don’t even come close to my record! All the best to you…

  • Gayle Wittig says:

    My after-rejection-letter tradition is to drag my sorry behind back to bed, curl up in a ball, cry just a little, and rest for a while – sometimes overnight. Then, I get back up and attack the project again.