Double-Rejection Day

Rejection #1: Perhaps it is a blessing that I am now physically unable to check my personal email during my lunch break at work. (All email websites are banned. The graphic of choice is a big red hand.) The rejection this afternoon was from a writers’ conference: no scholarship for me. I can still pay to go, but alas I am broke. Of course I had no idea about the rejection today, no clue it was sitting in my inbox waiting to sucker punch me upon coming home. How oblivious I was. I even had little summer-writing-workshop fantasies (I don’t know, I guess they involved eating at picnic tables and poetry readings with mosquitoes and seeing fancy literary agents in flip-flops?). Maybe I got a little too excited about that.

Rejection #2: So I stayed late at work. So late that E actually came by to walk me home. Once at home, upon realizing that I wasn’t going away this summer, at least to this particular conference, I resorted to my usual: the sulk. I am a master sulker. I crumple my face and stick out my bottom lip and make a sound like this: uuuucchhhk. That’s when it occurred to me that I haven’t seen any rejections on my short stories lately. So I asked him—my personal mailbox screener—did any rejections come through the mail? No, he said. Then, hesitating, Maybe. Then, Yes. But he didn’t remember where it was. The search for the rejection letter took ten minutes and part of me didn’t want to see it but another part of me did want to see it so I could wallow and sulk some more. It turned out to be a little slip, nameless, unsigned—from one of the most prestigious literary magazines in the country. That’s when it all became funny. Who am I to think I can send my stories to one of the most prestigious literary magazines in the country?! I am delusional, obviously. And that’s funny.

I think you have to be at least slightly delusional to be a writer—to put up with the nos and keep thinking you’re worthy of the maybe-someday yes. It’s a madness I hope to keep a hold of a little longer. I don’t want to sulk myself into oblivion yet.

4 responses to “Double-Rejection Day”

  1. I am sorry to read about the rejections. However, you write eloquently even about rejection letters, so I suspect you will soon be receiving other sorts of mail.

    I am about to start submitting stories to the prestigious literary magazines to gather my own pile of unsigned slips. I hope I can face them as bravely and with such good humor as you have displayed here.

  2. Sorry to hear about the rejections. :/ Sometimes they are best handled by the sulk (I too am a master sulker! We should swap techniques and take over the world with our master sulking abilities! It will be awesome!). & I don’t think there’s anything delusional about thinking you’re worthy of the yes! You will get it yet. Keep on it, Nova.

  3. Congratulations for treating those rejections exactly as they deserve to be treated–with a good sulk followed by delirious laughter and topped off with a witty essay that cuts them down to size…of course, if that last part didn’t work for you, you can always literally cut them down to size. I got scissors.

    Hang in there–“yes” is coming 🙂

  4. I once read this:

    Treat your editors like the coach from any sports team because the editor knows their audience and only rejects writing with a good reason–even if you never learn the specifics.

    Seemed like good advice, though I know nothing of sports or coaches. I do know, however, that editors have no choice but to reject 90% of what they recieve. Why? Well, for every book they have the physical ability to publish each year they receive 1,000 or more manuscripts. Many publishing houses only print 12 new books a year, one each month, and yet they receive ten times that many manuscripts in a single day. What does that mean for you the writer? That means that your manuscript had better be damn good if you want it to punch out the compatition and make it onto the editor’s desk. Once on the editor’s desk it had better glow if it wants to get picked for publication.

    Saddly, being a writer means that 9 times out of 10 your gonna get a rejection slip. Believe me, I know, I get them all the time myself. We all do, all us writers. But don’t give up, just send your work out to other publishers, sooner or later you’ll find the right one.

    Best of luck to you!


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