Friday, May 11, 2012

Rejection Shmijection

Sign into your email and see it sitting there:

Sender: Editors
Subject: Cahoots Magazine

Tell yourself not to get excited. Decide to open and read every other email first, just to prove how UNexecited you really are. But still, once you finish diligently reading "Are the best jobs posted on the internet?" and "Keyword Basics Part 5," realize you can't fool yourself any longer and feel an excited thump in your chest as you click on that email.

Did they accept the article?

Well, no.
They didn't.

But hey - on the bright side, this is one of the nicest rejection letters you've seen. First of all, they took the time to respond. They've thanked you twice and asked for future submissions. And there at the end, there's a real editor's name:  someone you can contact with future submissions, instead of sending them into a big form-email slush bin.

Tell yourself these are good things. Feel like they aren't. Acknowledge that no matter what you tell yourself, rejection hurts. At this point, know that you can do one of two things:

a)   Suddenly get so busy with everything else in your life that there's "no time" to submit the article - or any others, for that matter - anywhere else.
b)   Find a way to get past the rejection.

Choose B. Remember that tidbit you read the other day:  a baseball player with a .300 batting average—the game's standard of excellence—still fails at bat seven out of ten times. That's a 70% failure rate. Remember that like baseball, writing is a negative game. That means that in order to get one article published, you'll first need to receive many rejections. Think of the authors who learned this first-hand, including Flannery O'Connor, John Cheever, Raymond Carver, and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. In fact, Raymond Carver stopped sending stories to one magazine because he'd been rejected from it so many times.

Recognize that persistence pays off. Twenty major publishers said that 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' had no commercial appeal, and 'The Godfather' was continuously turned down before it was finally picked up and published. The story on which JD Salinger based 'The Catcher in the Rye' was rejected by the New Yorker because, according to an editor, "we feel that we don't know the central character well enough."

Other books that went through multiple rejections before they were picked up by a publisher are: A Wrinkle in Time, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and All Things Bright and Beautiful.

When none of this cheers you up, find ways to make light of the rejection and not give it more weight than it deserves. Remember that a writer friend of yours has chosen to decoupage a coffee table with her rejection letters. Realize that doing something like that would make receiving rejection letters oddly satisfying, as in:

Nooo! They don't want my article.
But Ooo, now I can finish covering that fourth table leg!
Find a silly use for your own rejection letters. Find it today.

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