Thursday, January 20, 2011

Rejection Letter from Henry Morrison Literary Agency (2000)

When I was a sophomore in college, I started writing a screenplay about what I had been through in my first 20 years of life. It started out with a narrative about the 1986 World Series, and moved on to a trip to the ER, emergency surgery, and Crohn’s Disease diagnosis in 1988. There were also scenes involving CAT-Scans, a brain tumor, and chemotherapy. Another part was about arriving as a freshman in college and finishing treatment during the first weekend. It finished with scenes of things I was struggling with the most my first two years of college: alcohol, crushes on female psychology majors, and a combination of the two.

I called it TRAGIC COMIC, wrote it all out in a notebook, but had no computer to type it out on. And for the record (I know this is unheard of now), I made it though undergrad and getting my Master’s in Education without owning a computer. Like I can say about many things in my life, thanks to Mom and Dad I got my first computer after I got my Master’s in 1999. In the fall of that year, I bought the necessary software (Scriptware)and finally started typing out my screenplay. I finished typing it in early 2000 (You can read a story about when I got pulled over speeding home to print it out here).

After I finished typing TRAGIC COMIC, I sent out a bunch of query letters to literary agencies all over the country. One of those was Henry Morrison, and this is the rejection letter they sent me:

Other rejection letters started coming back, so I decided to hang them up on my bedroom wall. In the fall of 2000 when I was living in Waltham, we had a party on Columbus Day weekend. During the party, one of my friends was sitting on my bed and began reading some of the letters. When he came to this Henry Morrison letter, he read the ending out loud and with disbelief - Something like: “We are receiving between forty and sixty queries a week? WTF?!”

Being the good friend that he was, he decided to take action. He whipped out his cell phone and (being a little too buzzed and not noticing it was on the letter) dialed information to get Henry Morrison’s number. I’m guessing the call was sometime close to midnight, so there wasn’t anyone there. Still, he decided to leave a message on my behalf. After saying something like “I’m calling for Dave McGrath who wrote TRAGIC COMIC”, he proceeded to the part about the amount of query letters Henry Morrison claimed to be receiving. The argument was “Forty to sixty queries a week? Who the f- do you think you are? Steven Spielberg?” Wouldn’t you guess it? I never heard back from Henry Morrison. I’m hoping at least they had a laugh that Monday morning. I’m just glad that I took a picture of my friend making the call:

Some people ask me why I would keep these rejection letters on my wall. To me, they just are just fuel to never giving up no matter what. TRAGIC COMIC may have not landed me an agent in 2000, but I haven’t stopped writing scripts. And this letter is reminding me that it’s about time that I give the TC story another rewrite and update. This time, I can include five more scripts I’ve written in my queries to agencies…


  1. I feel your pain and joy as a writer. I have four scripts of my own that I still seeking representation. Keep the fire alive my brother.

  2. It was 5 years ago, what's going on today?

  3. It was 5 years ago, what's going on today?