Rejection and Triumph

When I was sixteen, I had a crush on a nerdy guy at school. I was a nerdy girl, so that was all right. But he had the courage or assholery, or maybe honesty to tell me that he wouldn’t go out with me because I was blind.


He admitted he was a jerk for that, and he couldn’t do anything about how he felt. Actually, he could have, but he wasn’t willing. I’d prefer he have said he wouldn’t go out with me because I had red hair (which I did until it started turning gray in my 30s).

That wasn’t the first time I’d been rejected. I’d never been chosen for teams in forming them for classes or just on the playground. Probably wisely. I could see some, but, in playing Red Rover, I was as likely to run into a person as their locked arms. And Dodge Ball? Not likely to dodge much. I could play
kickball, which is probably why I like baseball now.

But moving on.

I knew rejection. I handled it pretty well. I got mad or sad or indignant, then I moved on. Resilience we call it these days.

And this prepared me for publishing.

Yes, if you can’t handle rejection, don’t go into publishing. A few lucky people sell their first piece, but those are the exceptions who prove the rule. Many famous writers, we are told, faced rejections. Dozens. I’m not sure if they are true or urban legends.

My publishing journey is so complex I won’t go into it here. Suffice it to say, I faced much rejection. I faced acceptances and then rejection too. Example: two agents who rejected me after accepting me as a client, then rejecting me after learning I’m blind.

I’ve had two agents since I found ones who didn’t reject me. I didn’t make them rich, nor did they lose money on me. Especially not losing money. I dare say they have made money on me. In fact, because I’m still getting royalties on books they sold, they are still making money on me. The second one has
retired, and I don’t need one where I’m writing now, so I am currently not looking for a new agent. Maybe in a year.

The point is, I made sure these women knew of my blindness first. They liked my writing. They believed in my writing, my stories, my ability to sell manuscripts to be turned into books.

Their belief was not mistaken. To date, I have 26 traditionally published novels. I have four more that were published with alternative methods, only one indie published.

To say it was easy would be a lie. I faced many rejections. I faced editors who thought I couldn’t do the work. One even tried rewriting my entire manuscript and thought her version was better. I’m not being egotistical to say it was far, far worse.

But she rejected my original manuscript, when she was supposed to be editing it, as it was already sold for a lot of money, because she didn’t believe a blind woman could write a novel worth reading. This is not speculation; this is fact.

I don’t turn in perfect manuscripts. I don’t think any author does. But how many people have been told their manuscript was so bad the editor had to rewrite it, and it was bad because the author was a blonde, or had green eyes, or was too tall? Yeah, right that would happen.

And there she was telling me I should accept her version of my manuscript because of my “visual difficulties”.

That rejection made me hysterical. I cried for two hours or more. I cried off and on for days out of anger, out of pain, out of despair that this world would ever give me a chance.

My current editors and many others have. They knew me before they bought my books. They accommodate my technical challenges due to inaccessible software. They accommodate my life imploding and give me the time I need to work. Is it because they pity me? No, it’s because they don’t have to. For every author published are thousands of more wanting to be. They do it because they like my work and know that this is the right way to treat an author—meeting her needs whether she has a sensory disability, physical disability, or a mental health issue.

If more people would behave this way, 75% of people with disabilities wouldn’t be unemployed. If you don’t believe that number, go to  Disability Statistics and look them up.

We need more agents, editors, and employers to realize that people with disabilities can do the work and should have equal opportunities to gain employment.

If you are ever in a position to hire, please consider someone with a disability with the same thoughtfulness you apply to nondisabled people. Be part of the solution, not the problem.

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