Reasonable Words: Elizabeth Gilbert on Rejection

Tipped by Long Reads, Elizabeth Gilbert before she won the book lottery with Eat, Pray, Love:

MAD Magazine’s rejection letter. Nicely in character.

Gilbert: “I was just so committed, and I did have six years of rejection letters. And it really didn’t break my heart. Some of them made me really excited because some of them had little handwritten notes at the bottom. Pretty good, but not our thing. And I was like, I got a really great handwritten note from Harper’s! And I would hang it on my wall, like, That’s such a great rejection letter! I don’t know why I felt like I had the right to do it. I don’t know. I’ve always been really surprised—and I really remain very surprised—at people who don’t think they have the right to do their work, or feel like they need a permission slip from the principal to do it, or who doubt their voice. I’m always like, What? What? Fucking do it! Just fucking do it! What’s the worst that could happen?! You fucking fail! Then you do it again and you wear them down and they get sick of rejecting you. And they get tired of seeing your letters and they just give up. They don’t have any choice. So part of it was real confidence, and part of it was fake confidence, and part of it was insecurity. It was a combination of all them.”

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