The irony of rejection is that sometimes it can actually make you really happy. My new year’s resolution for 2014 was to write more short stories and start submitting them for publication in literary magazines. I would say this is the first new year’s resolution that I have ever kept. And it feels really good.
It even feels good when I get the letters rejecting those stories that I worked hard to craft because with each one of those letters, I get closer and closer to an acceptance. But the reason I love those rejections so much is more than just that I’m closer to finding acceptance. I love them so much because they represent me being vulnerable and taking a risk when it actually means something.
Writing has always been a part of who I am–even when I don’t actually do much of it. I have always written stories in my head and sometimes on paper. When I think about life as a writer, I can actually feel my eyes welling up with tears. I have physical reactions to the idea of a life of writing. So when those rejection letters come in, it means that I’m trying, and there’s really not much more that an aspiring writer can do.
The first letters I received were informal, impersonal, and generic. I interpreted those as we’ve got so much going on, that your piece didn’t even catch a second glance. I can handle that. There are lots of amazing writers out there and who am I to presume I’m better than all of them?
Then I got one not-so-nice letter that was pretty critical of the piece. I would be lying if I said it didn’t sting when I read it. But my husband reminded me, “Isn’t that something you can learn from?” And I pulled my head out of my ass and got real. They probably had a point.
But just the other day I got the best rejection letter of all. I’ll share it with you here:
Dear Ashley ,
Thank you so much for your submission. We enjoyed reading your work but ultimately decided not to accept this particular submission.
We hope that you’ll send us more of your work in the future. We really do. Your prose style is quirky and engaging.
We’re sorry we don’t have the time to explain the reasons why we reject submissions.
Best of luck to you!
They didn’t accept the story, but what does that matter? Magazines receive hundreds of submissions all the time. The possibility of getting a story in one is truly slim, and when that day finally arrives, I’ll be thrilled. But the fact that someone at this particular magazine took the time to thoroughly read my work, understand what I meant to get across, and respond personally to me means the world to me. Someone gets me. And isn’t that a writer’s goal in the first place–to find another soul in the world who understands your message?
I have arrived.
Image taken from Google Images.