The hierarchy of rejection

In our capstone class, Christopher DeWeese and I have been talking a lot about how rejection is part of being a writer. No one we know has managed to escape it, and no matter where you are in your career, it keeps on coming. We don’t mean to be discouraging about this, but matter-of-fact. I tell my students how I look at it as the hierarchy of rejections–you move from the form letter that says “no thanks,” to the form letter that says “no thanks, but try again” through to the form letter with a scribble of hand-written “sorry, so close!” in the corner, and up to the form letter that says they’d like to publish your work. And sometimes you move back down the hierarchy too, and that’s okay.

I received a rejection letter this morning from a magazine I have long admired and submitted to and read. At the end of the form, the editor said, “Lovely writing, but we’re full through 2015. Try us again in the fall.” I don’t feel a bit of sting from this, just see it as a sign I’m finally getting some traction with that magazine. I’ll write something else and try them again. I’ll send this essay somewhere else because I know it’s a good one. The most times I’ve ever sent out a story is forty-seven and the least is two.

It’s a wide divide between something being published and unpublished, but it’s also just one “yes” away. Keep writing and keep writing better stuff, that’s all you can do.


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