The Great Mystery of Rejection (Encouragement for Creators)


For most of us, the hows and whys of rejection remain a mystery. It’s not always about talent, or the lack of it. Timing and taste are assuredly factors. Fate and fickleness also seem to play a part.

In 1882, a bored, young doctor began to dabble in writing. His earliest pieces were, by his own admission, largely embarrassing efforts; but he stuck with his new hobby and, a few years later, completed his first novel, which he promptly and proudly sent out to a publisher. Unfortunately, he lived during an extremely barbaric period of history when there were no photocopiers, and his only copy of the manuscript was lost in the mail!

Undeterred, the good doctor continued to scribble his thoughts, and soon completed his second novel, which he promptly and proudly mailed off. No, this time he took the precaution of keeping a copy. Actually, he made several copies, so he was able to send the novel to several different publishers. A few weeks later he received by return post, several different rejections — enough, in fact, to convince him to shelve the book.

Finally, in 1886, he finished a third novel. The first three publishers he approached rejected it immediately, one of them stating that the tale is “Neither long enough for a serial nor short enough for a single story.” The fourth publisher agreed to print the tale, in one of the many popular magazines of the time, and paid him the meager sum of £25 — less than most magazines paid for a single short story. But at least his third novel did see print. For one whole month it was on the newsstands, but the next month it was gone and forgotten.

So the young doctor didn’t immediately quit his day job. He continued seeing his patients and continued to dream of writing full time. Ironically, he didn’t consider the publication of this first novel a turning point in his career. He was thoroughly pleased with the novel, and he genuinely cared for its two main characters, but he knew that as writer, he had a long way to go. His turning point, or so he thought at the time, came when he was asked to write the English translation of a German article entitled “Testing Gas Pipes for Leakage.”

Not very glamorous, but the editor had approached him, and commissioned him to do the piece. Was he on his way to being a real writer at last? Did he have a bright future penning articles about leaky pipes? Yes and no, respectively.

In 1989, Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine asked Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write a second novel featuring the now immortal characters of Sherlock Holmes and his trusted associate Dr. John H. Watson, M.D. Doyle penned The Sign of Four as a follow-up to his first published novel, A Study in Scarlet, the one for which he was so handsomely paid £25. The rest of the story is literary history: four novels, 56 short stories, as well as any number of unauthorized adventures called pastiches; movies and
television shows, dating from the era of silent films all the way up to the recent BBC hit Sherlock and ABC’s Elementary.

So there you have it: one of the most successful and well-known literary characters rose up like a phoenix from the ashes of Doyle’s rejected novel. We’re all grateful that somebody was willing to publish the first adventure of the World’s Greatest Consulting Detective. It’s yet another case that proves the point: the mystery of rejection is strange indeed!

The steps of a man are established by the LordAnd He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24 NASB)

Read Tom’s story “The Deadly Sin of Sherlock Holmes” in the anthology Gaslight Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes, available in print or Kindle format.

Reviewed by London Fog: “THE DEADLY SIN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES” – 5 stars.  “…This is one to get caught up in, and will send the shivers down your spine. Made all the better for it capturing the essence of Sherlock Holmes…. Investigation played out the way Holmes of Canon would have done, down to the last letter. …A genuinely well-done pastiche.”


Give It a Rest! (Angel in the Kitchen)


Good cooks agree: we may not tire of food, but food gets tired. Apparently.

Wine connoisseurs admonish us that when we open a bottle of wine we should “let it breathe” before serving it. Okay. After all, the bottle was airtight, so the wine must have been suffocating in there.

And when we remove a bird or a roast from the oven, the recipes always state: “Let it rest.” Why should we? We did all the work cooking the piece of meat. And now we’re hungry!

We actually know the reason for this one: As meat cooks, the natural moisture inside it gets pushed outward. This moisture migrates toward the surface of the meat. Some of it eventually evaporates. The remaining moisture is concentrated near the surface. When you take a roast or bird from the oven, the cooked meat needs to “rest,” thereby allowing sufficient time for the remaining moisture (the juices) to evenly redistribute throughout the meat.

If you cut into the meat right away, those juices — concentrated near the surface — will pool and drain off, and your beautiful turkey or slaved-over roast will end up being very dry.

Letting meat rest allows it to re-absorb the juices that keep it tender. And, guess what, people are just like roasted meat — or turkeys, if you prefer. Please read on.

We have two other series in addition to Angel in the Kitchen. In Diet for Dreamers and Encouragement for Creators, we try to inspire people to set goals and achieve them. And we all need goals, something to shoot for, in order to be healthy and happy. But sometimes we get so caught up in chasing our dreams, so focused on our ambitions, that we lose sight of all the wonderful things in this world that make life so special to begin with. So, after cooking up plans for the future, we need to let them rest. If we don’t, we just might find ourselves getting a little dry spiritually, and our hearts not quite as tender.

We can sell our souls to our jobs, projects, dreams, and even ministries — to the point where we have no time for friends and family; no time to stop, think, catch our breath, and smell the proverbial roses. People climbing the corporate ladder may neglect (and lose) their loved ones in a mad dash to make it to the top. Dreamers often wear themselves out, and often get depressed, trying to make their wishes come true while holding down demanding day jobs. People in ministry, including pastors, priests and rabbis, often get burned out for the world’s greatest mission in life.

— All because they failed to periodically take a break and spend time replenishing. Like the recipe states, “let it rest”!

Nothing is worth the price of fatigue and depression, not to mention any broken relationships. These “ailments” can ultimately derail the very dreams and ministries that caused them. Stay focused, stay committed, but also take time off. Rest and recreation (focusing on something else for a time — such as family) are antidotes to depression and exhaustion. And retreating and recharging with God and His Word are vital to preventing burn out.

Our Heavenly Father was the first to set the example for us to follow. After creating the Universe in 6 days, He rested from His work on the seventh. And when He walked the earth, Jesus Christ the Lord frequently retreated so He could recharge. He also rested and He indulged in recreation (food and fellowship) — and His mission, His dream and His goal were far more important than anything we’ve been up to!

God went even further: He established the seventh day — the Sabbath — as the official day for retreating, resting, recharging and recreating! You see, He knows we have this bad habit of striving, competing, obsessing, and getting caught up in the moment. God the “Master Chef” is admonishing us to “let it rest”! He wants us to be “juicy” with the Spirit of God, refreshed with His holy Word, and tender-hearted toward our friends and families; not tough and all dried out.

Got a dream, a goal, a job or a ministry? Of course you do. But every so often, you need to give it a rest! Take time to recharge. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and loaded down with burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 ISV)

Well, the cookbook said, “Let the turkey chill in the sink a few hours”!