"The poet A. Wilber Stevens once sent a manuscript to the editor of a literary magazine whom he knew slightly. When his self-addressed return envelope came back to him he opened it and out fell a little pile of ashes."
An anecdote from Rotten Rejections (Andre Bernard, ed.) one of my very favourite pick-me-up books. It does me no end of good to read that Dr Seuss was rejected early on with the reasoning that his manuscript (And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street) was "too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling", or that H.G. Wells was once dismissed as being "only a minor writer of no great promise", or that Emily Dickinson’s poems were considered "Queer – the rhymes were all wrong", or indeed that Anne Frank’s diary was thus described:
"The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level".
And of course, my favourite, written to Oscar Wilde in rejection of Lady Windermere’s Fan:
"My dear sir,
I have read your manuscript. Oh, my dear sir."
Yes, I am procrastinating. Yes, I have a million and one other things I shoud be doing. I blame the heat. Among other things.