I love hearing stories about successful people being told "no." My entire life I've had the assumption that pretty much everyone else knows what they're doing and successful people were just born successful. Every time I get a "no" from an editor or a potential employer or, well, anyone, it's because they know better and what I am offering just isn't good enough. I'm very consciously using the present tense here. After all, why would I get so many no's unless everyone's right?
Well, eff that. Every time you get a "no," remember you're in good company. Think back to this list every time an editor doesn't respond to an email you send and you wonder if you even exist. You've officially joined the club of massively creative people who have been told potentially self-destructive things and then pressed on. Congratulations! Here's your team:
Alexander Graham Bell was told the telephone had "no commercial value."
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected 121 times.
J.K. Rowling was rejected 12 times, told "not to quit her day job," and that "there's no money in children's books."
Walt Disney was fired from Kansas City Star for "lacking imagination and good ideas."
Oprah was fired from a news station in Baltimore for being too emotional.
Jerry Seinfeld was fired from the show Benson and no one bothered to tell him; he had to read the script to find out.
Elvis was told by the concert hall manager at the Grand Ole Opry to go back to driving trucks.
Kerry Washington had two pilots before Scandal and was replaced in both.
Lady Gaga was dropped 3 months into her first recording contract.
Steve Jobs got fired from his own company. Or something like that. Depends on who you ask.
Before running for president, Lincoln lost a handful of elections. He also had a "frontier" accent, and no one from the "more learned coast" took him seriously.
Steven Spielberg was rejected from USC's Theatre School three times and only got his BA in 2002.
Rudyard Kipling was told, "I'm sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don't know how to use the English language."
Fred Astaire was told, "Can't act. Can't sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little."
Quentin Tarantino was told, in regards to Pulp Fiction, "This is the worst thing ever written. It makes no sense. Someone's dead and then they're alive. It's too long, violent, and unfilmable."
And that's just the beginning. Henry Ford, Lucille Ball, Winston Churchill — massively successful people spent years struggling with their craft before anyone appreciated them. So toil on, you artiste. Toil on. It may not get better for a while, but it will get better.
Luckily, the only person who needs to believe in you is you.