Though these days the term wordmonger refers to "a writer or speaker who uses language pretentiously or carelessly," please join me in proposing a new meaning. A fishmonger appreciates and promotes fish, therefore, a wordmonger does the same for words.

Thursday, October 27, 2011



We writers deal with rejection all the time. I’m with Louise Brown, who wrote, “I could write an entertaining novel about rejection slips, but I fear it would be overly long.”

Indeed. Back when many magazines still published short stories, I was quite a collector of rejection slips. I didn’t realize it at the time, but some of my rejections were giving me a glimpse of the future. In August of ’99, June of ’00 and August of ’05 I received rejections that also notified me the magazines I had submitted to were shutting their doors (Story, Whispering Willows Limited and Pangolin Papers, respectively). In November of ’08 I felt personally responsible when I received a message scrawled on a form rejection, stating, “We regret to inform you that the magazine has closed. The editor died.” Ouch.

Delivering rejections might be as damaging to the health as receiving them.

The word Rejection came to English from Latin, through French. Unsurprisingly, Reject means “to throw back.” Reject’s other meanings include:

-to refuse to recognize
-to set aside or throw away as useless or worthless

There’s a rare meaning, “to be disobedient,” which I suppose may relate to many writers’ responses to rejection.

There are also some meanings that appeal to the fifth grade boy within:
-to expel from the mouth or stomach

As little as I like receiving rejection, I must admit to a sick fascination for truly good, cutting rejection. Dorothy Parker, author, literary critic and wielder of one of the sharpest tongues ever, once reviewed a book by writing, “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force." Oooh. That’s good.

What great rejection tales can you add to this Steaming Heap of Rejection Stories?

Thanks to this week’s sources, Jon Winokur’s The Portable Curmudgeon,, the OED, &


  1. I've had so many rejections that I've lost count.

    I smiled at the words, 'It should be thrown with great force.'

    Alas, that's how I've felt from time to time with my own words on paper.

    Keep them coming, Charlie!

  2. I think my favorite was one from an agent who'd been sitting on the full manuscript of my humorous mystery, Ghostwriters in the Sky, for over 6 months. It said "this agency does not represent nonfiction." BTW that manuscript was published today by Mark Williams International. Available as an e-book for $2.99, to anybody who enjoys the kind of 'nonfiction' that involves homicidal ghosts, right-wing gay cowboys and the occasional cross-dressing dominatrix.

  3. Hi Anne & Jean Ann,
    Thanks again for regularly checking out Wordmonger. Anne, based on his latest post (, Mark of Mark Williams International is doing a great job of promoting your book. This is good news for the world.

  4. Ouch indeed! At least those getting rejected had the courage to put things out there in the first place. Never give up.