Motivation: Don’t give up. REJECTION LETTERS OF THE GREATS

There are so many reasons not to give up, and I love finding snippets of inspiration that boost the next say, hour or so of work.

The internet makes that search so much easier.

Schadenfreude is one word. Akin to, maybe how taking-pleasure-in-the-underdog-winning-like-a-champ is also a word… somewhere… that I don’t know yet, and would very much like to find out (or for you to comment below and enlighten me). A word for winning.

When you’re under pressure, it does get tough to imagine how it’s all going to work especially if you have to perform to the expectations of others. It can feel really easy to just want to give up.


If you’re your own boss, then giving up can become way to easy when ultiamtely the only person keeping tabs – is you. The above words are two which may be just as good – even better- then winning.

When you feel like giving up, give yourself a fighting chance.

Meditating on that truly means in these sorts of situations can be beneficial, especially when you need motivation. Some of the greatest talents alive acepted this suffering as part of their journey and of course, where at Culturegloss, we’ve curated the best and the glossiest rejection letters.

Jim Lee’s Marvel Rejection Letter

jim lee rejection letter

Perhaps the most famous rejection letter: The Jim Lee rejection letter from Marvel comes to mind first.

Lo-and-behold, 2 seconds searching and it’s on Tumblr for all to see. That Jim Lee himself could *get rejected* is a bizarre idea to even imagine, but the fact they used so few sentences to also tear up his illustration work makes his success so much sweeter.

Jim Lee got rejected from Marvel: now he’s the co-publisher of rival (arguably superior) DC Comics. A fitting story of turning sides, no? Needless to say, no-one messes with Jim Lee these days unless they don’t ever want a career in anything directly or indirectly related to graphic novels. Although I’d imagine him also to be human, having been head-pecked so young with a letter like that.

U2’s Rejection Letter

U2 rejection letter

My friend Mike is the world’s largest (but not anatomically largest) U2 fan I have ever and Manchester has ever known, and I’m pretty sure he’s told me the story of this letter like he were The Edge himself. This is one of  the most famous rejection letters from the 20th Century. Which is of course, a grandiose thing to say but if you know Mike, it’s true. If this were a game of Pointless, this famous rejection letter would be the highest-scoring answer. And if you’re thinking that piss-in-the-wind-indie bands like Bastille and Wild Beasts are taking all those festival slots you should be getting, think again. U2 can headline after 30 years – or three decades years after deciding not to be piss-in-the-wind.  Those other guys from 2012 won’t, but they’ll try and end up lingering around future festival tents like a virus, probably making pedestrian reunion gestures on breakfast television in the year 2029. Mind, you still have to get knocked down before you figure out how to get up again.

Exemplary; and onto:

Madonna Rejection Letter

madonna rejection letter

LOLGASM. I nano-secondly wonder if Jimmy also has a property portfolio that casually spans the richest areas of London and New York. Madonna is now so successful that I feel sorry for Jimmy, knowing this rejection letter exists.

Without wanting to seem arrogant, reading through the rejection letters of the greats put everything into a lot more perspective. There are decision makers out there who wield an awful lot of power, as well as a lot of blaggers whose success make it sometimes seem that bad people get the best opportunities; when really all they’re doing is playing a game, and playing it better than the moaners and groaners. I guess, in order to get a film festival onto the map and up there in the echelons, we have to play it smart too, no matter what funding councils say and no matter what rejection letters we get. Because if we make it good enough, they’ll come bounding towards us.

Walt Disney’s Rejection Letter to Tim Burton

Tim Burton rejection letter

This is a rejection letter, coming from Walt Disney productions. Walt Disney himself was told he was unimaginative. Walt Disney defied the rejection, and then died, but only after establishing the world’s largest and most prolific animation studio in the world. Bizarrely, Tim Burton could now cough and people would fight to publish one syllable of it. Unlike a few of the other greats, by the last sentence of the above Tim took the letter completely to heart, and had become an apprentice to an artist.

It wouldn’t be for another 15 or so years before he made it.

In looking for reasons to carry on and not to give up after having gotten so far with plans and production, I had a distracted browse on Tumblr and then came across a whole tonne of these and emo-memes inspired by them. You know what I mean: highly denotive images with big lettering from those buzz sites that everyone eats up like intellectual fast food. In terms of inspiration, they feed you up quickly while too many of them makes you sick.

Then, sometimes, there are rejection letters which give lights at the end of the tunnel, and well, are really only half-rejection letters. Take this one addressed to Sylvia Plath.

Sylvia Plath’s Rejection Letter

sylvia plath rejection letter

Half of it was good enough for the New Yorker. The other half became her most venerated collection in Faber’s classics portfolio.

And unless you can read Swedish or will actually spend 40 minutes of your life in Google Translate like I just did, this rejection letter to Stig Larsson is just heartbreaking: being told exactingly why he wasn’t good enough to be a journalist. Tragically, like the great-greats; Stig didn’t live long enough (the jury’s still out on whether he was finished off by political extremists) to enjoy the success that his masterpiece received.  And yet deservedly, the publishers who rejected him didn’t get a single Krona out of the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series either.


Yeah. I think I’ll stick with those two words.

Fighting. Chance. 


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