Guest Column: Catherine Wald

wald.jpgI never thought that the biggest win in my life would come from being a Class A loser. But that’s the way it went down. Let me explain.

I’m the wordsmith who penned The Resilient Writer: Tales of Rejection and Triumph from 23 Top Authors, a book about how we scriveners can deal with the thumbs-down, but my pipe dream was to become a published novelist. When all else failed, I decided to latch onto rejection instead, which is what finally led me to a real live book.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d been published before, in some magazines you’ve heard of and plenty you haven’t, and I’d been making a living as a corporate hack for a good chunk of time before I even dared to attempt writing a novel. And I got plenty of rejections along the way. But believe you me, nothing is as personal, painful and ego-shattering as the rejection of a first novel. Or at least, if there is, I haven’t found it yet.

You may be wondering if my novel was any good, or if maybe it deserved to be rejected? All I know I worked darn hard on it for five backbreaking years, and that I was pleased as punch when I wrote “The End.” Hell, anyone who even finishes a novel, no matter how bad it is, deserves some pride! And mine was good enough to land me a top New York agent. We just never found the proverbial happy home for it.

A lot of the people I interviewed for The Resilient Writer have plenty of rejected novels hidden away in their drawers or closets. Maybe my first novel deserves to be deep-sixed, too. I can’t be the judge of that. All I know is, when my then-agent gave up on it for good, after sending it out for two-and-a-half years, I had a bad case of the blues. It wasn’t a pretty picture. I even pulled the plug on my second novel, that’s how broken up I was.

Then I had the bright idea of taking my tormented emotions and putting them to good use. First I whipped up a website, www.rejectioncollection.com, for other crazed rejects like me to beef about the unfairness of it all. Then I came up with a book proposal for a book about rejection, which was rejected, and a second one, likewise. But by the third or fourth rewrite I finally had a winner.

So here I am today. I’m not known as a sensitive novelist, but as a hard-boiled rejexpert. But I guess this is one twist of fate I’ll just have to learn to live with.

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