Reprinted with permissionthis is part of a message Patrick Gabridge posted in a discussion over at playwrightbinge yahoo group. Very wise words Mr. Gabridge.
. . .It's not realistic to expect that your early work will be universally loved and produced. Writing plays is a tough thing, and it takes years to get good at it, and even then you still write stinkers (or at least I do). Also, as you build a body of work, it's so much easier to get productions, because you know which work is better and more likely to get picked (and people notice that you have a track record). I have a pretty sizable collection of short plays, but I don't submit them all with equal frequency. Some are stronger than others.
I would think a beginning writer would be lucky to have an acceptance rate of 5% (1 in 20).
Sometimes I talk to fiction writers, and they talk about how they got so many rejections, 15 or 20, before placing a piece. That must makes me laugh. I just added up the numbers in my database, and I've had about 704 rejections of play submissions since 1990. I don't mind getting a rejection, because I know that I'm doing my job (of sending plays out) and the theatres are doing theirs (reading the scripts and making decisions). I'm much more perturbed by theatres who never respond (I've done my job, but they're shirking theirs). The percentage of folks who respond can be quite high.
I must say, I'm a bit befuddled by the focus so much on rejection. Almost all of a writer's submissions will be rejected. That's just the way it is. If it's going to drive you into deep depression, you're better off being in another business, because it never goes away. My rule with rejection letters is: read them once and file them away. I don't dwell on them or study them. If they say something nice, I put them into a file for follow-ups. If they don't, I put them in a file that doesn't require follow ups.
The best way to stop being bothered by rejections is to get lots of them, because you're sending out lots of scripts. This means you're doing your job. A rejection is not cause to need a shoulder to cry on, it's just a sign that you should send out something new.
By all means, if a script is rejected time after time, maybe you'd better get the message. Maybe it's time to stop sending it out. (Not everything we write is pure genius. Except perhaps Mr. Levine.) Write something new. Write something better.