I so understand why people will leave you hanging instead of writing rejection letters. Instead of viewing it as a nice gesture when you say, “Sorry, no thanks,” the recipient too often sees it as the start of negotiations! “I know you said your blog doesn’t review books, but you could, if you wanted to.” No, no we could not. We do not, in fact, want to review books. But we do want to be nice, and that is why we sent you our polite “No thank you.”
One of my first jobs as an adult was at a small film production company that was kind of a vanity operation for a big screenwriter guy. He was very insistent that we respond to every script with a rejection letter that contained thoughtful discussion of what was wrong with it, and constructive criticism. This was somewhat fun for me as I had just dropped out of grad school and loooved to write with my analytical hat on, explaining where characterization had failed and pointing out nitpicky plot holes. In truth pretty much every single script we got was awful, except for one that was based on a combination of “Carmina Burana” and Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights.” I loved it. My boss was like, “Art film. No.” And then we had our 90th story meeting with a writer working on a script about a guy who breaks out of prison in order to prove his innocence and takes the prison dentist with him. Love ensues! We once spent a half-hour discussing whether or not the dentist was blonde. (Discussion ended when someone from the studio said, “She’s a modern woman. She probably changes hair colors, like Madonna.”)
I was in love with this arty and very weird guy who was a filmmaker, in grad school at UCLA. He lived in a kind of SRO set up, with a sink in his room but the bathroom down the hall. In the middle of his room he had hung a big scale. On one side of the scale were all of his rejection letters from grant boards and film festivals. On the other side was a single sheet of paper which contained his life goals in code. He also had tied string to everything in the room so that if you were on the bed and wanted, say, the toothbrush, you could pull the correct string and draw it to you. I’m not gonna lie: I still think this is totally hot.
We all deal with so much rejection in life, you’d think we could all deal with it better. I remember when Hugh Grant cheated on Elizabeth Hurley, I was so happy! I mean, I felt bad for her but I thought, “I will never again be crushed when a guy rejects me if that could happen to a supermodel.” What can I say, I was shallow and convinced I was ugly. Needless to say, the Hurley Effect did not come to pass. Rejection just sucks, and being a supermodel or getting a nice letter about it doesn’t help much.
Then again, sometimes it takes so little to make me happy, you’d think I could be happy all the time. Just thinking that there is someone out there named Prunella Scales has cheered me up three times today.