Side Effects of Rejection Letters*

1. Immobility (physical)

2. Immobility (mental)

3. Immobility (fantastical), sometimes involving nightmares featuring quicksand and/or having no feet

4. Selective hearing, especially when given “compliments” (i.e., veiled insults) about your writing and how you will “make it” (i.e., fail utterly) one day, you just have to keep trying and “not give up” (i.e., you should totally give up, you suck, you loser)

5. Uncontrollable sighs of discontent—amplified during weekly staff meetings at your day job

6. Obsessive listening to Elliott Smith

7. Nausea

8. Jealousy of successful writers

9. Jealousy of new writers who are just starting MFA programs

10. Desire to throw tomatoes at your ex MFA program

11. Second-guessing every single thing you write or think of writing so you don’t write anything at all for weeks at a time and may as well have been watching TV

12. TV watching

13. Existential crises

14. Irrational fear of literary agents

15. Irrational fear of literary agents’ dogs

* If the rejection came via phone call, side effects tend to be three times worse.

13 Comments

  1. I just came across your blog and don’t know you, but I so feel your pain. (Also a writer, also MFA.) I have a feeling the whole “It isn’t personal, its a luck of the draw” pep-talk won’t help, so I won’t go there. It just… sucks. My friends and I are planning a rejection-letter bonfire. Maybe that would help. Keep submitting… good for you for getting your stuff out the door.

  2. I hear you. Today I even played around with the idea of just quitting my writing all together and devoting myself to volunteer works. My thoughts ran something like “maybe,if I could gain inner peace, I will reflect it and improve the world around me.” It’s safe to say this will never, ever happen if I’m writing. So now I’m burying myself in global warming information and realizing in 70 years nothing will matter anyway. Smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em.

  3. also for 3.:
    dreams of being at a race staring line, the gun going off, everyone else running really fast, you run as if under water.

  4. How many numbers of this list I share with you makes me want to pump my fist and/or point to the screen and shout, “Look, ma! I really am a writer!” Small consolations, huh? :/

    (I try not to do #6 unaccompanied anymore, though).

  5. I’m doing 6 now and am too familiar with 4, 5, 11 and 14. I’ve been dreaming of cannibals lately. I don’t know what that means.

  6. I’m somewhat new to the whole process myself – found your blog by searching for rejection letter posts – trying to prepare myself for what’s sure to come my way (now that I’m one foot out the door of my MFA program…)

    Your posts are a pleasure to read – thank you for sharing.

  7. Came by via a tweet from Ann Napolitano. Thanks for linking this — clearly you have success! I’m struggling with all the same issues and having the same sorts of dreams. Mine involve repeatedly missing an airplane.

Comments are closed.