Madeleine L’Engle and the Art of Rejection

I’m actively on the lookout for blogs and websites about faith and art. One I stumbled upon is Diary of an Arts Pastor. In his most recent post, entitled L’Engle, Pavarotti, Sigur Rós, King David, be begins by quoting an AP article about how Madeleine L’Engle was rejected 26 times for her initial book, A Wrinkle in Time. This is the same book that later won the John Newbery Medal as the best children’s book of 1963 and has sold over eight million copies. In Walking on Water, L’Engle gave the reason why. The publishers didn’t know what to do with it. It didn’t fit into any of their neatly defined categories. They didn’t think there would be an audience for it and didn’t know how to market it. And now I quote the blog above:

If God has called you to be an artist, then He has also equipped and empowered you to fulfill your calling. Train yourself, hone your skill, acquire discipline (both artistic and spiritual), trust God, and be prepared to be rejected. The greats always were–Hemingway, Gauguin, L’Engle. Treat rejection as normal. One of my professors warned me kindly: “David, the road to publishing is strewn with pink slips.”

We really need to get into our heads that rejection is not the end of the world, it’s part of the world, our world. We’ll be rejected for all sorts of reasons, some reasonable and others not, but we need to keep going.

It’s hard to follow the less traveled road. It can be lonely, and many simply won’t understand. Further, if you are in any sense a prophet (truth-speaking, not future-telling), be prepared for lots of resistance from people who don’t want to hear what you have to say. But you know, I don’t like being rejected, and can still back down or hide or not follow my heart on any given day. It’s a good reminder though. Rejection is part of the journey.