Rejection Letter to Your Past Self

Write a letter of rejection to your past self, explaining why you needed to go through the rough patches that complicated your life the past few years to grow as a writer.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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21 thoughts on “Rejection Letter to Your Past Self

  1. Plgrove

    Dear writer who-didn’t-quite-get-the-plane-off the runway,

    We are sorry to inform you that you did not set the world on fire after college (just the hamburgers on the grill you cook on to make a living.)

    Firstly, you spent too much time chasing a person that had no romantic interest in you, and told you so. He knew it wouldn’t work out about 20 years before you figured it out. As easy as it is to kick yourself over the lost time, we strongly suggest you don’t. The same goes for the health problems you could’ve prevented (or at least taken care of sooner.) There’s no use in past regret, and we are truly sorry about the loose skin on your gut that will never go away short of plastic surgery. This also goes for your mild hoarding fetish. No use crying over the Tiki torches and coconut bras you bought in all those thrift stores.

    Which leads us to our main point: don’t dwell on not cashing in on your past writing opportunites. You had some good starts that didn’t cash out like the slot machine you wanted it to. Frankly, we think you should know why. You are a smart, imaginative person and a great writer, but those things have worked against you at times. Your free spirit is always refreshing, but with it comes a lack of discipline and an aversion to sticking things out until the end. If it doesn’t come easy, you give up. Editing your work and thirtyeth drafts are not your strong suit (but to be fair, it wasn’t Sinatra’s either.)

    We recommend you try something you have absolutely no natural talent in. Something that will force you to use your guts and will instead of natural charm. Perhaps welding or better yet, long-distance running? Spending time pounding the pavement will relax you, give you time to think, and most importantly, give you something to strive for. You do seem to like physical trinkets of your accomplishments, and a medal would do this nicely. It can also build your confidence: if you can make it 13.1 miles through gale-force winds in Green Bay, you can do anything. You may also consider sharing these stories with others, so they can learn from them as well.

    We wish you the very best of luck in your future writing endeavors.
    The Editors of Your Life
    January 14, 2012

  2. Eve

    Dear Past Self:

    I regret to inform you that we will have to reject your work because you have not had the guts to actually get your piece(s) ready for publication and submitted it/them.

    Furthermore, you have procrastinated, hiding behind the excuse that you simply don’t have anything to say. Bullshit! That’s the same thing your dad used to say and why he didn’t write more. He was talented and had plenty to say at the dinner table and yet he couldn’t put it on paper. Your mother didn’t have much to say, but she wrote anyway, and guess what? She got published in “Best American Short Stories 1960!” If she could do it, so can you. You are a far deeper thinker than she, and better at expressing your emotions. You just lack her self-discipline!

    So get cracking and focus. Spit it out, get it on paper, and then edit the hell out of it. Show it to your friends and your critique group, and edit some more. After you’ve done this, you’ll feel better, and who knows, you might even get published, and might even make some money at it. Isn’t that your dream? So … get off your butt (or should I say, on to it – at the computer) and put those keys to work.

    Good luck. I look forward to reading your work because I think you have real talent and something to say.

    Best Regards –

    Your “Critical Parent”

  3. sinistersayings

    To my past self, the lost little girl I once was, from the future I’m in a better place. Don’t be scared, take my hand and follow me, it will get better.

    To the frightened little girl I once was, trust me, don’t be afraid, take my hand and trust me, I’ve got you now, I’ll keep you safe.

    To the little girl I thought drown in the sea of things that she didn’t quite understand, I love you. What you went through was horrifying, but I’ll never let anything like that happen to you ever again.

    With love,
    Me

  4. poetic1too

    Dear Recently Unemployed Self,

    It is with our deepest regret that we must reject your current application to move forward with your career. It is quit evident that you have lacked the ability to be still and allow things to naturally take place. We feel that it is best that you continue your current status quo because it is the only way you will gain a clear and consistent focus on your vision.

    In order to move forward you must suffer through the anxiety which will shape the creative person you are meant to become. We see what you are capable of doing, but you seem completely blind of what you can accomplish. There is a sense that you are eager to accomplish, explore, motivate and inspire; however lack of focus will only cause you to fall short before you even begin.

    We suggest you take this time to allow your thoughts to collect, to organize them and gain the self confidence it takes to achieve your life’s work. Only you can define what that is, and that will only take shape when you accept that rejection is inevitable. Begin by believing, inspiring, and encouraging yourself from within. Then and only then can doors be opened for your heart to explore.

    Our Deepest Regrets,
    Self

  5. Osha

    Dear Past self,

    Thank you so much for your interest in joining the world of writing. Though you show a great deal of life experience and a desire to put it to paper. Your life just isn’t fucked up enough yet. So we have to say no in regards to your attempt to put words on paper. Though we do agree that your dark childhood, Being a single mom at the age of sixteen. and being twice divorced by the age of thirty five is painful enough to cause the paper to bleed at the touch of the pen. We do feel your third marriage, and six years living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, takes away from the pain and strife of the earlier years. We feel these good years, have made you lazy and out of touch with how the real world works. For example, you never even attempted to write, not even a poem till after you had brain surgery.
    , What we are really interested in is your New self. Your New self has shown a great deal of progress. Firstly she believes in herself. She believes she has a thought, feeling or story to share. She isn’t afraid to just write, who cares if it isn’t perfect. It’s her story, and her words. The rest is what edit is for. What truly matters is there is a story to tell, a picture of words to paint. Though New self has grown from physical pain, anger depression and a loss of hair, we feel this is the window that others want to look through.
    We do feel if you were to get together with New self, and collaborate together, that would be more in line with what we are interested in. If that should happen do continue to write, and share the pain of the past few years also. Don’t forget to add some irony as well as sarcastic humor, this makes the bitter easier to swallow. The clock is ticking and time is running out. Don’t feel badly that you weren’t the right fit. Eventually you will bloom and become your New self. When that time comes you may be easily putting stuff to paper. However you will wish every day to be your Past self.

    Sincerely Yours
    Self

  6. Jean

    Dear Writer and Former Me,

    It is my decision, based on years of wisdom acquired through pain, betrayal and loss, to reject your submission. It lacks the sharpness and acuity that these future experiences will bring to your writing. But fear not. It will be harsh, it will be heartbreaking and it will be betrayal on a Judas scale, fine fodder for any writer.

    In literature as in life, a writer must take notice of the people that surround her. Take particular note of…say….your husband. Use your writer’s ear to discern the undercurrents that rumble there and consider his behavior for what it actually is and not what you would have it be. What does that tell you, dear writer? You may wish to take a membership in a gym to work those literary muscles (and as a personal aside, it won’t hurt to work those biceps too, you’ll be needing them).

    Much of writing is about seeing the possibilities, seeing the forest and the trees and, as clever as you may assume yourself to be, little red riding hood, you haven’t yet discerned your wolf.

    So gather your resources, take a deep breath and wade in. It’s going to be as numbing as the arctic city, as capricious as a Kafka court, as tragic as poor Juliet but what the heck. It should serve you well in your writing years.

    I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors (oh dear). And remember your center of gravity and use it well, as I know you will.

    Sincerely,

    Editor and Future, Wiser, More Bitter You.

  7. heiditoad

    Dear Ingenious One:

    While it is true that you are ingenious and consistently face life as if it is a comedic farce, always having the fortitude to place it in the back of your mind so that one day you may write it down, we find the pages are still quite blank. In addition, Alzheimer’s is just around the corner for you. Remember… Your grandmother had it, you mother has it and we suggest that you purge your memories before you start poking strangers in the ass yourself!

    On a more positive note, we are happy to have learned that you finally purchased a MAC and will no longer be without a computer due to a multitude of viruses you described in the package that you submitted, in the paragraph entitled, “My life is a blank canvas, here’s why.”

    Furthermore, we are aware that your sister has all the talent and that she was born with instilled discipline and motivation while you have clearly received the procrastination gene. However, we have learned that the procrastination gene can be reversed.

    May we suggest that after you are done stressing over finding your mom’s pen for the 10th time tonight because she keeps sticking it in her sock, take the colors of your life which you remember so fondly as odd and important and do something with them. Every character, every gut wrenching event, every childhood prank, every unique moment, put them to paper because you have had the most interesting time and from that comes some great and fascinating stories!

    We look forward to seeing your next submission!

    Sincerely,

    The Ass Kickers Society!

  8. nessa1267

    Dear Procrastinator,

    Regretfully, this letter is to inform you that your procrastination with writing will no longer be tolerated and you will proceed daily with writing even if only with a line or two. Their has always been a inner desire in you to write which steams back to your middle school when Ms. Trueth, had given us a subject to write on and she became fascinated with your story. So fascinated with your story, she read it aloud in the class and a couple students accused you of copying the story from another source. However Ms. Trueth knew the story to be real, as she had read many of your other stories.

    Over the years, you’ve had great story ideals come to mind but you always put off writing developing your creativity. Mother always said “never put off till tomorrow for what you can do today”. She was so correct, tomorrow isn’t promise and each of us has a purpose here on earth. You will never know your true purpose as long as good old procrastination continues to get in the way.

    Going forth you will develop a writing goal by writing it down. You will write a little everyday because writing gives you that excitement next to talking. So with that being said you are now rejected from you’re past putting off things. It’s a do now time, not a put off time. Out with old, in with the new.

  9. A Jacobsen

    Dear Past Self:
    While you showed a spark of imagination, I want to set you straight. You are not yet ready to submit to publishers. It is obvious you have not done enough research. Your letter sounds generic.
    Your main problem is that you do not understand what a picture book is. The main character needs to have an obstace to overcome (appropriate to a child’s world), which is the event that launches the story.
    Your work lacks a story arc that is, a beginning, middle and end. What you have submitted is a scene, not a story.
    Rhyming picture books are a hard sell. Your rhymes are imperfect, your meter a bit off.
    Ask yourself whether you are serious about publishing or if this is a passing phase.
    I would suggest taking writing classes, reading, and attending a writing conference to learn the craft and the industry. Have your peers review your work, perhaps approach a local children’s librarian to review it.
    I understand that receiving such advice must be difficult, even painful. But, remember this is a business and you must develop a thick skin. Approach publishers profesionally and offer me quality work.
    You are welcome to submit again in a few years.
    A Publisher

  10. GoodieMama

    Dear past dreamer,

    I regret to inform you that we have chosen not to publish your work. Since we have not received anything from you, we chose to go with someone else. With you always too busy having your head in the clouds, dreaming of a better life, you should buckle down and pursue the dream.

    Now we realize that there are times when people will reject others writing. You are so afraid to face the rejection that you choose not to even compete or try to submit anything at all. The lack of confidence in your art causes you to believe what your family thinks instead of believing in yourself.

    Hopefully the inadequacy you feel will be conquered and you will start to notice how truly talented to you are. When that time comes, you will be a better writer for it.

    Regards,
    Your future hope

  11. alyssauseUrTelescope

    Dear confused self,

    I regret to inform you that you didn’t quite…
    Scratch that. Regrets are senseless. Everything happened just the way it should have. Why ?
    you are here today, being who you are, doing what you do, because of every piece of the past-every single piece.
    That’s right. Cheers to every scrape from falling off of your bike, every wrong answer on a test, every jerk that made their way into your
    heart somehow, every avoidable argument that comes with
    the denial of being wrong, every ‘little white lie’-every imperfection, every smudge on the canvas of your life has made up the art it is today.
    And every piece of art has its story. Isn’t that what’s most intriguing about it ? No two works are the same, for they can’t be. Van Gogh is no Picasso.
    Picasso went through blue phases, but never so blue that sending a part of ear was considered a gift of devotion.
    You’re probably wondering what I’m getting at, and why it’s taking so long. But don’t we ask that of ourselves more times than we know ?
    “why is it taking so long for me to be happy ? Why is it taking so long for me to understand the theory of relativity ? Why is it taking so long to
    allow the world to read my thoughts? Why is it taking so long for me to change the world, just like i’ve always wanted to ?

    Your canvas is not completed just yet. The story of you has not reached the climax just yet. Aspire to become the writer you’ve always dreamed of,
    but do it with love in your heart, hope on your sleeve, and leave your eyes wide open. I’m afriad you’ve missed some extravagant things on your quest through
    life.
    Love yourself a little more. Love opens the heart to a thousand different highways. Love for yourself can take you every place you’d want to go. Perhaps you
    limited yourself to a single free way. Try turning around, love yourself a little more, and the end result will be in your favor. One who compares themselves
    to others is one that isn’t reading their own street signs. Don’t speed up to catch up to the one in front of you, for they have their own destination.
    You’ll get to yours exactly on time, so never be afraid to take any detours. Never be afraid to allow some paint to drip on your canvas.
    Do you get it, yet ? Am I loud and clear, confused self? Love yourself, love your work. Love your work, and so will others.
    Sing and the world sings with you. I look forward to hearing from you again. But next time…don’t use your inside voice. Scream at the top of your
    lungs. This isn’t a library, this is life.

  12. onaway

    You fool! Make your dreams come true while you still know everything!

    I see that no amount of years will help you to become a better a writer. I advise you to challenge yourself with a new trade, such as working with bituminous materials, or using power tools to screw-up people’s houses. Although you will grow older, and greyer and fatter and balder, you will find that nothing really changes but numbers on the calendar. After a decade you may stand proud as a dead oak. Your magnificent beauty cloaking the dead, rain soaked interior where the blackness grows. You’re arrogant thoughts will follow you and your quick mind will remain quick… for now.

    Should I encourage you to continue in this useless persistence of hope, I would be depriving the world of another burned out loser with a hurry-up-and-do-nothing attitude. Whatever you can say could have and should have been said long ago- when you’re ignorance blinded you into having the strength to defend your convictions. Therefore I must remind you that chasing dreams of life filled with true memories and experiences will only be forgotten next season like a pile of leaves in the autumn- crumbling into nothingness.

    These letters I must send you like waves to the beach crashing and washing away the land and the stone a tired sailor would reach for. I am the persistence of the ocean and I will continue to test your strength until you crumble and fall or wreck and drown.

    Sincerely,
    you-know-who, dammit!

  13. pyrosama

    Dear Multiplayer Role-playing Gamer Chick,

    I am sorry to inform you that we are not able to accept your fantasy novel as a sub-genre romance depicting the woes of your fairy character as she struggles to win over the dark elf of Norcastanomapostia. Though your passion for writing is apparent to us all here at Carlisle-Publishing, we feel that you will do well to live life to its fullest outside of the gaming world in order to establish that much needed connection that will make your story more palpable to those lovers of fiction in our current market.

    We wish you well,

    You future selves

  14. kospina

    Dear high school self,

    I am sorry to say that you simply were not publishable back in the 80’s, not yet at least.

    While you were quite imaginative, and had a decided flare for domestic comedy, your abundance of creative flourishes and interesting character details were a cover up for not having very much to say. While it is clear even then that your passion was telling the story of the underdog, you hadn’t seen enough of life yet to understand all the intricacies of human behavior. You were not yet able to capture the depth and range of emotions that make your hero or heroine live and breathe for your readers, not as characters, but as people they can relate to.

    While you may not like hearing this, marrying too young, divorcing before you turn thirty, raising a child alone, and slogging through an endless series of menial jobs will teach you a great deal about the underdog and how to truly make him or her come alive on the page, warts and all.

    I would also recommend you spend some time as an immigrant activist. Advocating for those trapped by poverty and politics will give you further insight into human nature, both good and bad.

    Lastly, I would encourage you to sit up nights, after a long day waitressing, to write about what you’ve seen, heard, and felt and about the people around you. Those very same people may annoy you at the time, and you may indeed be too close to the many messy situations you find yourself in to see the story in it, but capturing those details will serve you well in your writing later in your life.

    If you follow my advice, I believe you will develop your voice and your understanding of human nature sufficiently to truly be ready to put yourself forth as a writer.

    Please do not be discouraged. Once your child is grown and your career as an activist has leveled off, if you give submitting your writing for publication another shot, I believe you will eventually find the success you now dream of.

    Sincerely,

    Your future self

    1. chilo

      Dear past puberty self,

      I am deeply sorry for coming out and saying that your failure today will be evident in the days ahead. Your continued self-absorbed opinions have deterred you from the goal of becoming the writer you dream of. That dream would be shattered if you don;t stop and think about the feelings of others. You must be able to take different viewpoints in stride, not necessarily agree with all, but you must be able to use that knowledge to write better characters.
      You must put action in the right in order to progress in the future.
      Trust me and you will find yourself writing characters with much more flare instead of a two-dimensional narcissist.
      If you change for the better, you will be on your way to getting published.

      Sincerely,
      Your future self

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