Failure is a part of life. And for writers (or anyone who’s ever dated anyone) so is rejection. Rather than cower in fear of failing again, we can learn from it. We can, as the over-quoted Samuel Beckett commandment goes, endeavor to “fail better.” We can also find solace and encouragement in the knowledge that others, including masters like Gertrude Stein, have failed before us.

In 1912, publisher Arthur C. Fifield sent to a despicable (albeit clever) rejection letter Getrude Stein, mocking her (eventually) first published book Three Lives. A copy of the letter is below, so prepare to sympathize with Stein and/or dig deep in schadenfreude.

stein rejection letter

Find more harsh rejection letters here. And, once you’ve had enough, read some advice from 12 famous writers on how to handle failure.

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—Benjamin Samuel is the co-editor of Electric Literature. He fails better than Sam Beckett. Find him on Twitter.

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