April 19, 1912

Dear Madam,

I am only one, only one, only one. Only one being, one at the same time. Not two, not three, only one. Only one life to live, only sixty minutes in one hour. Only one pair of eyes. Only one brain. Only one being. Being only one, having only one pair of eyes, having only one time, having only one life, I cannot read your M.S. three or four times. Not even one time. Only one look is enough. Hardly one copy would sell here. Hardly one. Hardly one.

Many thanks. I am returning your Manuscript by registered post. Only one M.S. by one post.

Sincerely yours,
A. Fifield

Miss Gertrude Stein,
27 Rue de Fleurue,
Paris, France.

92 thoughts on “The Art of Rejection

  1. This is of course the letter Gertrude Stein received from a London publisher. It captured well the stream of consciousness of Stein. I think you should acknowledge that it is a quotation in your blog.

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    1. I think that it is dated 1912, sufficient for most readers to get that this is an old letter of rejection not written by me but by a publisher to a hopeful writer so I disagree and don’t appreciate your nitpicking.

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    1. I think there is a line between insanity and genius and she was walking a very thin one. She was a very gifted writer with little regard or empathy it seemed. If you haven’t read her book Q.E.D I recommend it, there’s a lot of insight into her there. Thank you Gigi! ❤

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  2. This was really a great rejection well matched to the submitter. I always follow the method of rejection acceptance used by David Hume. He accepted rejection gracefully and never answered his critics. I, on the other hand with my male INFJ Personality can discern heartless rejection from a single consonant, a look through dark sunglasses, or the vibrations of total silence. If someone rejects me kindly and with good humor, I immediately move them to the top of my Christmas card list.

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      1. LoL! I saw that. 😁. I didn’t really read a lot of GS. I remembered she was famous for her repetitive text. Apparently, blazing new trails in literature and English Grammar, not to mention social issues, wasn’t popular at every publishing house in the early 1900’s. Still, I saw some real humor there.

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          1. She certainly is! I assumed the red and black was yours. I can’t look away from a lady dressed in red and black. I can’t explain it, but I’m hypnotized by that color combination. I certainly never intend to be rude or intrusive but staring with eyes wide and mouth open is just me being me. 🤩

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          2. Oh yessss! Quite enthusiastic. I had a 73 Harley Sportster that was such a lioness with her quickness and roar. Harleys had a lot of quality problems back then and like a lot of Hog riders, trouble followed ever after but they hang on. Anyway, I had a 55 mph lay down on some sand in the road and rode her down, which saved my life but not my hide. I was laid up for weeks and lost my job and my Harley was a mess too. I had these gnarley scars from road rash and small pieces of gravel would pop up from time to time reminding me of that wild ride on the side. I was convinced I was immortal and death defying behavior ensued until I was old enough to know better and my tats faded. My sister rode with the Outlaws in Florida and they were a rough bunch but always in pursuit of fun and excitement. Several trips to Sturgis were successfully attempted. There are a lot of stories to tell about our youthful endeavors. I think my sister outdid me tho. (I would never admit it to her) 😆

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          3. You’re a wild one! We have a Harley Electra Glide , a great touring bike as you probably know. A couple of years ago we took it up into the Blue Ridge Mountains through Deals Gap, Its amazingly beautiful up there. I’m sorry to hear about your accident, that’s horrendous! I’ve yet to drop or be dropped , that would be the end of biking for me. I’m familiar with the Outlaws up in Davie, not personally. Lol. 😊

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          4. 😄 I should add to my confession, it was a very long time ago. Now, as Lord Geezer 9th Earl of Huff-n-Puff, I’m expertly house broken and trained not to bark or whine in front of others. My territory marking days are over and life is definitely less injurous to my self. Life is good so to speak. I’m totally jealous but love that you have that Electra-Glide. What could be a better way to see the mountains of NC? Did you visit the motorcycle resort and ride the Dragon? I recently finished a section of the AT just below Fontana Dam. Deals Gap is next as I mosey back into Tennessee. When I give up the rat race next year after squirrling away my secret stash of hiker’s funds, I’m going to spend the rest of my days completing the triple crown, Appalacian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail. That’s about 8000 miles and will take me a year and a half of actual trail time. My plan to avoid being eaten by a bear is to always have a Honey Bun to offer as a better alternative. Stay a free spirit and upright on the road Mme H.

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          5. Wonderful plans ahead H, very exciting! I’m sure you can hardly wait! I did ride the Dragon in the Blue Ridge and stayed at the resort, Deals Gap was a scary ride, I don’t recommend that to the faint of heart! By all means keep the Honey Bun ready in case of bears, a confession, I am terrified of Bears and when we hiked in the Blue Ridge I was very concerned that we might come face to face with a Mama Bear.

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          6. You are awesome and brave Mme H. Plus, you are quite smart to avoid bears. Mama Bears are cranky because baby bears are so rowdy. Nothing makes a cranky mama bear feel better than chewing on a tasty person with a backpack full of Snickers bars.

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          7. It was a great movie. It was one that left me with a blank stare and a WOW stuck in my throat. I lived quite the adventurous life as a young fellow but absolutely nothing like that. It made me think of how strong people like Lewis and Clark were in surveying the wild America and native American tribes. I learned that nature was beautiful and merciless and forgiveness of one’s mistakes was in the form of the long sleep. I have a few bear and wolf stories of my own but I was fortunate that a guardian angel walked with me and kept me safe.

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          8. The poignant ending of Revenant was brilliant. I am glad you have stayed safe in your adventures Mr. H. I would venture to say I have led a very adventurous life that many women would not dream of, but we only go around once and life is for living. Thank you for sharing your’s with me. I am very honored. I would love to see it between book covers!

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          9. I remember us discussing Amsterdam a while back and I was very impressed with your views and attending poem. You are right, when we do not fear life, we can live it to our best ability. I would love to hear or read of your adventures as well. Some of our best moments on the angry blue planet occur far away from our comfort. The vista’s of those memories and photographs never get old.

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  3. That is so cool!
    I think it’s quite funny, but then I am not the rejected… in this case.
    For all of my successes in life, I have had many rejections.
    This would not have been the worst. At least there are words, a response. 🧐🙃

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    1. I found it amusing, it shows originality, I would simply move on were I too receive that as I would not be able to take her too seriously. Knowing how temperamental she was (per her biographies) I would just assume she was having a bad day.

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        1. I found the reactions interesting. Some were angry. Personally if I were to receive this rejection letter I would be so amused, Give it a few days send the MS back hoping she was in a bad mood that day. 😊

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