Rejection as a Badge of Honour

Not many people I know talk about how many rejection letters they’ve received. It’s not a popular topic. People would much rather discuss areas of their life that are going well; the job promotion, the award, the scholarship, the blossoming relationship…  And who would blame them?

I, on the other hand, want to talk about rejection. Silly me, I know, but I’ve got rejection on the brain since my latest one arrived. When I was a young writer, rejection was a dirty word, a word I avoided at all costs in hopes of self-preservation. Now, after many years as a professional writer and artist, I have learned that rejection letters are a badge of honour. Let me tell you why.

Alexis Marie Chute writer rejection illustration

Rejections reveal perseverance.

The writer is writing, words are being put to paper, there are ideas being explored. This is the first hurtle of every creative person, to believe enough in one’s own work to create in the first place.

Rejections reveal courage.

The writer is brave enough to submit and query which in itself is a terrifying process likened to a blind date. The palms sweat but there is hope and curiosity – and who knows how it will turn out? It takes vulnerability and belief in one’s self to put the work out there. It’s admirable, commendable, and just plain heroic actually.

Rejections reveal humanity.

Most writers curse the form letter that arrives in the mail or, heaven help us, the email (I loathe rejection emails by the way – unless the query was sent by email in the first place.) I remember feeling terribly down, and shedding a tear on occasion, after receiving my early rejections. They stung – but that in itself was evidence of loving the craft, profession and the calling of being a writer. If it didn’t sting, it would show a writer cared little for their work.

Rejections reveal determination.

What is the writer’s response? Determination rises up in the face of the lost opportunity. It says, “Screw it. I’m not done yet!” and get’s back to work. It asks, “What can I do to improve my writing? Where should I send this query next? What of my writing would better fit this particular publication? How can I become even better at what I do?”

When I was a kid, Mom repeated a phrase to me over and over until I ate, slept and breathed it: If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

I am proud to announce that I have received over fifty (5-0!) rejection letters for my writing and artwork as of this week. I’m actually at 52 and that is just my record over the last few years where I’ve kept track. Fifty. 50. It’s an accomplishment. I stopped fretting over rejections at around the 30-mark and now just swear, sit once again at my desk and continue on.

Alexis Marie Chute writer rejection illustration image 2

The fiftieth anniversary gift is traditionally gold but for now a pat on the back will suffice. Yes, it’s my own hand doing the congratulating, it’s a good arm stretch really, a needed break from all the typing. Writing is a solitary act and if you can’t give yourself a pep talk, you’re in for trouble.

If I were to time travel back to my earlier self and offer encouragement, this is what I would say:

Keep writing. Never give up. The rejections will always bite but eventually you’ll learn to bite back. It does get easier. One day at a time. Success is for those that believe in themselves and their work. Good luck!


How many rejection letters have you received? How do you cope? 


Method Art Gallery representing Alexis Marie in Scottsdale, AZ

My latest three photographs represented by Method Art now grace the walls of their gallery. Have you ever been to Method Art? The gallery is in the heart of Old Scottsdale, Arizona on the ‘Gallery Walk’ district. The area buzzes with activity, gallery shows, tasty restaurants and boutiques. The staff at Method Art blow me away with their friendliness – they are not the snooty, off-putting types. If you are in the area, they are absolutely worth a visit.

My relationship with Method Art began when I won first prize in their “The Ultimate Composition” photography competition and, shall I say, the rest is history.

Method Art Gallery Scottsdale Arizona photo copyright Alexis Marie Chute

Dear Edmonton

I want to share an artsy event with you called Dear Edmonton. It’s a creative mash-up with an inspirational flavor and its happening this June. Many of my friends and fellow artists are organizing and participating; Dave Von Bieker, Omar Reyes, Adam Tenove, Julie Drew, Marcie Rohr and many others. I’m happy to support them.

Here are the details:

Bridge Songs, Dear Edmonton

Bridge Songs is an annual community arts event in Edmonton, Alberta, CAN blending original music (a recorded album and live performances) with visual art, poetry and short films around a central theme.

This year’s event, Bridge Songs: Dear Edmonton, runs June 14, 2014, at The Anglican Parishes of St. Faith’s and St. Stephen the Martyr (11725 93st). The event starts at 7:00 pm and costs $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Click here for tickets.

Check out the cheeky yet sweet video about Dear Edmonton:

Jump into the conversation: Take part creating this event with a simple post on social media tagged #dearEdmonton.

What’s your #DEAREDMONTON?

MFA Creative Writing Reflections

How do I feel finishing my first year as a creative writing MFA grad student? Thank you for asking.

I feel:

  • Exhausted
  • Excited
  • Proud
  • Motivated
  • Educated
  • Ready for a vacation!

When I reflect on my first year at Lesley University, it’s apparent that I like to challenge myself. Oh the leisurely life of a slacker… that has never been me. In my first year I have experienced creative and craft breakthrough, honed my voice and forced myself to edit like a samurai. It has really has paid off. I have developed an awesome work ethic when it comes to my writing. It’s not always fun, but I sit my but in the chair (or stand at my make-shift standing desk) and get to work. I love being productive and that is a reward in itself many days.

My MFA program has not been all work and no play. I LOVE (love, love, love) my school residencies and count many of my peers dear friends. Sometimes I daydream about them, wonder what they are up to in their part of the world, hope that their writing is going fabulously and of course eagerly anticipate seeing them at the next residency.


Over the last year, as a writer I have learned:

  • To never give up
  • Following your passions involves sacrifice
  • Sleep is often optional
  • The harder you work the better you become


Over the last year, as a human being I have learned:

  • To see the beauty in every person and hope for the best
  • When busy with your passions, make every moment with loved ones quality time
  • Regular, boring life can inspires greatness
  • Family time is never optional


The craziest part of my exhaustion after the first year? I am already considering my PhD options. Go figure!

This coffee mug was given to me by my second semester mentor, Pam Petro. It’s become my, “I’m a writer” mug, and I love it.

Alexis Marie Chute MFA creative writing Lesley University coffee cup 2 blog

Kids in Art Galleries

I’ve encountered some pretty frustrating situations when visiting art galleries with my kids. I’ve been stalked by security guards who glare at my children, been hassled because of my stroller (it’s small, I promise), and been booted out over a lollipop.

Seriously people, our children need to be in art galleries from a young age. It is so important.

I have always brought my kids into art settings. They are loud and run around but they feel comfortable there. We stop and look at artwork for twenty seconds before moving onto a new piece. The attention span is short but their memories will be long.

My four year old daughter has actually made many observant comments about the artwork she sees. And she is not afraid to speak her mind and tell me when she thinks something is ugly. I love this. Sometimes we adults get stuck in trying to be polite or thinking art must be viewed and understood a certain way. Kids don’t get stuck in these sticky issues.

My kids are always laughing, smiling and having a great time in art galleries; I think they are fueled by the colours, images, shapes and open space. Of course they want to touch everything, heck so do I, but I’ve taught them to be respectful and if they misbehave they know they’ll be carried or put in the stroller.

As a mom I love it when art galleries have areas for kids. Our regulars, the Art Gallery of Alberta and the Phoenix Art Museum, have child friendly and interactive areas. The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, another favorite of mine, does something brilliant. When my husband and I visited there with our kids last summer, they gave my kids a pencil and a little stack of paper taped together like a book. My kids felt honoured. My daughter in particular was sketching the entire visit.

I believe art is such an integral component of a healthy culture – and family. It’s tougher to make an art lover out of a resistant adult, but a child – they are wide open, curious and creative. I encourage art galleries to welcome children with open arms. If you are scared kids will break something, put the work on higher plinths – but do not discourage children from visiting and please do not make parents feel anxious with their kids in your space. And parents; please expose your children to as much art as possible, it is one of the greatest teaching opportunities you can give them.

Here are some photos from my family’s recent visit to the Art Gallery of Alberta.

Art Gallery of Alberta

Art Gallery of Alberta

My daughter watching a floating wig in ANDREW FROSST: Instinctive Break on exhibit March 29–June 8, 2014 at the Art Gallery of Alberta

My daughter watching a floating wig in ANDREW FROSST: Instinctive Break on exhibit March 29–June 8, 2014 at the Art Gallery of Alberta

My hubby, Aaron Chute and I in front of Jill Stanton: Strange Dream, March 5–December 31, 2014 at the Art Gallery of Alberta

My hubby, Aaron Chute and I in front of Jill Stanton: Strange Dream, March 5–December 31, 2014 at the Art Gallery of Alberta

Art Gallery of Alberta

Art Gallery of Alberta

Kids love to touch and experience art.

Kids love to touch and experience art.

Family time visiting Lyndal Osborne: Bowerbird, Life as Art, February 1–April 27, 2014 at the Art Gallery of Alberta

Family time visiting Lyndal Osborne: Bowerbird, Life as Art, February 1–April 27, 2014 at the Art Gallery of Alberta

The children's room was a little creepy for me but the kids didn't seem to mind. BMO World of Creativity: Cabinets of Curiosity, July 1–June 30, 2014

The children’s room was a little creepy for me but the kids didn’t seem to mind. BMO World of Creativity: Cabinets of Curiosity, July 1–June 30, 2014

Alexis Marie Chute Artist Art Gallery of Alberta kids 03 blog