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Coalhurst author and teacher normalizes rejection

Posted on April 13, 2023 by Ryan Dahlman

By Erika Mathieu


Being rejected once hurts, but being rejected dozens, hundreds of times is practically a guarantee for working writers.

In the book Keywords in Creative Writing, authors W. Bishop and D. Starkey note a writer’s path to publication is inextricably linked to being told, “no,” by publishing bodies. 

“Rejection is the dark door at the centre of creative writing through which all who hope to survive must pass – even the most successful writers have been rejected many times, developing a healthy attitude towards rejection is essential to every writer.” 

Coalhurst-based author and teacher, Mike Saad has successfully published 20 or so works. From novellas, to historical articles, and poetry and fiction, Saad’s CV and various publications reflect the triumphs and successes of his work. However, the seasoned writer said he is no stranger to being told, “no”, by publishers over the years, and wants aspiring authors and writers to know this is a normal and expected part of finding the right fit for a piece. Despite 200 or so rejection letters, Saad’s commitment and perseverance has resulted in creative resiliency which keeps him motivated to continue to carve out time to write. 

“(Writing) remains my personal hobby. I have about 20 publications out there now. I write fiction: novels, short stories, and novellas, as well as non-fiction,” which includes essays and historical articles. 

Saad said that receiving rejection letters from publishers is all part of the process. 

“Over the course of the past 25 years I have amassed a healthy collection of rejection letters and unpublished manuscripts. It is very much part of the writing process, especially today where getting published by a bonafide publisher is getting harder and harder to do because of the reams of competitive media out there today, phasing out so many of our smaller literary presses.”

Saad’s most recent published works include the 2016 novel titled, All the Devils Are Here (Tumbleweed Books, DaOwen Press), which explores family and addiction as a young boy must decide whether to continue living amongst chaos and drug abuse or break away from this environment. 

In 2020, Saad’s sci-fi novel, The Anger of a Thousand Worlds, was published by World Castle Publishing out of Florida. The narrative follows “an augmented human who becomes a renegade, intergalactic drifter hellbent on colonizing an alien world, compelling a desperate colony of planet Earth to send a human soldier out to try and stop him.” The work was inspired by the real-world curriculum that Saad has taught at Coalhurst High School. 

“As a Social Studies teacher, the idea for that book came from reading Homo Deus by Yuval Harrai about the dangers of humans ‘playing God’ with genetic manipulation at a time when the planet is challenged by issues of climate change, artificial intelligence, and the ugly legacies of colonization as we know them today.”

“I am in the process of writing two new novels, one of which I have completed the first draft and am allowing to ‘percolate’. The other (project) is my current ‘work in process’.  I get to it whenever I can scrounge up some spare time, which life as a busy teacher and a parent doesn’t always afford me.” 

Saad said despite various challenges such as time constraints and receiving his fair share of rejection letters from publishers over his career, he remains creatively engaged.

“The work, however, continues, as I find writing not only therapeutic, but also helps me as a teacher of the craft, helping out students with their own writing, creative, and/or publishing aspirations in either my social studies classes, or with the student’s own personal vocations.”

Saad is also a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Platinum Jubilee Medal for his contributions as a teacher.

Saad’s novel All the Devils Are Here is available for purchase at Analog Books in Lethbridge, other titles and information can be found by visiting 

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