Like most people, I’ve led an unusual life. For me, part of its unorthodoxy is my insistence on trying to make a living as a writer. Let’s just say, it’s been an uphill climb.
But occasionally I comfort myself with the knowledge that there are a million reasons why things either gain recognition or fail to. So, here are a few quick and hilarious examples.
In the 1950s, a book was rejected by several publishers, with withering comments such as, “very dull,” “a dreary record of family bickering,” and, “even if the work had come to light five years ago when World War II was timely, I don’t see any chance for it.” That book, however, did get published, and it has sold almost 40 million copies worldwide. Its title? The Diary of Anne Frank.
I point this out not to highlight the brutal lack of human empathy of these publishers (although, “a family bickering”? THAT was your take away from that story?), but to highlight the deathless wisdom of the great screenwriter William Goldman’s quote, “Nobody knows anything.”
Just one of a trillion examples (Harry Potter leaps to mind). My favorite is a tie between the rejection of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” because “It is impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S.” and Decca Records’ rejection of The Beatles in 1962 because “guitar bands are on their way out.”
Nobody. Knows. Anything.
That can either depress or inspire you. Your call.
Please feel free to share other examples you know of