375 lessons in life from a rejected journalist

2 October 2011

PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: Modern journalists and wannabe-journalists are an imperviously impatient lot, who think they are the almighty’s gift to the profession.

They expect every story idea of theirs to be instantly accepted for publication, and every finished story to be published, as is, without a comma or turn of phrase being overturned.

Such careerist upstarts can draw a lesson from the Bangalore-based journalist turned researcher S. Sathyanarayana Iyer alias ‘Regret’ Iyer (in picture).

As a freelance contributor, Iyer collected so many “rejection slips” from editors, who felt there was something incomplete in his work, that instead of letting it bog him down, he took it as a challenge to gain acceptance.

Regret Iyer’s first rejection slip was for a photo-story on Bijapur in north Karnataka in 1964. With over 375 rejection slips, he has earned a pride of place in the Limca Book of Records.

47 years later, in circa 2011, he says he stills feels a rush of blood each time he gets a new rejection note which begins the ominous sounding words, “We regret our inability to publish….”

Unlike many of us who would cringe at such repeated rejection or quit the profession in disgust, Regret Iyer took it all on his chin, incorporated the “regret” notes from publications into his name (view his business card, above) making it his USP, and kept sending in contributions as a  writer, cartoonist and photographer.

He started three hand-written magazines (Shankar’s Herald, Image, and Gruhavani) between 1969 and ’75 to encourage amateur talent at risk of rejection like him. And ran a neighbourhood newspaper in Bangalore called Stencil for five years from 1984.

Eventually, the byline—“by Regret Iyer”—went on to adorn such publications as The Hindu, Indian Express, Hindustan Times, Sanje Vani among others. Iyer also launched a company under the banner “Regret Iyer Publications and Productions (RIP).”

What is more, Regret Iyer has immortalised success born out of failure. His son, a student of journalism, and his daughter, an MBA aspirant, have both incorporated their father’s nom de plume in their names.

Not to be left behind, Regret Iyer’s wife proudly calls herself Regret Vijaya.

View a Regret Iyer documentary: Crow with a broken wing

Also read: Provocation is in the eyes of the beholder

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4 Responses to “375 lessons in life from a rejected journalist”

  1. S.R.Rama Subbaiah Says:

    The unique speciality of this gentleman is obviously to consider regret not as reject & feel dejected but treat it as failures being only stepping stones for success. One step down is two steps up!

  2. VOXINDICA Says:

    Salute your indomitable spirit, Regret Iyer!

  3. shantanu Says:

    as a journalist myself, all i can say is simply brilliant. salud, sir

  4. Vishnu Says:

    This story vinidicateds how the elite upper class in a newspaper views freelancers and new joinees. They have such a disrespect for people in the lower levels. Recommendations and cronyism thrive in newspapers. If you do not have anybody to recommend, it is difficult to get a job and get acceptance in a newspaper.


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