4.14.2008

Dealing With Rejection

I enjoy reading Literary Rejections on Display. I check in a few times a week not only for the frequent doses of vitriol concerning literary journals, fee-charging contests and rude editors, but also because the writing is sharp. Writer, Rejected has a great voice and I think this website includes lots of useful publishing information. The blog often provides space for authors to post a short story for criticism, and a couple of them have been pretty good.

It all amounts to, I think, a healthy way to deal with one of the writing industry's necessary evils: rejection. I keep a record of my submissions so as not to anger editors. It's an important aspect of approaching your writing professionally--to catalogue where your work is under submission and to keep track of dates and correspondence. Some (many) editors ask that you wait a period of time (often a month or more) before submitting again after a rejection. You need to give yourself the best chance to place your work, and you don't do yourself any favors by ticking off an editor. These folks read hundreds of submissions, many of them disregarding the published guidelines for the magazine, and they deserve our careful attention to detail.

This leads me to the topic for this blog post. I received a very thoughtful rejection from The Magus Zine last evening. I appreciate the note not only for the specifics on the story but also for the explanation of the delay in response. The editor didn't owe me anything other than a note regarding a decision on the manuscript, but when he or she personalizes the note it makes the rejection much more palatable. Also, I can learn from it. I can think about the editors' tastes and their view of my writing as I'm getting back to the drawing board. And it makes me want to work more closely with that magazine. I thanked them for the note and, after I polish a couple of my current pretties, I'll try them again.

I have a file of my hard copy rejections. I have a couple of my acceptance letters and best rejections set aside for posterity. And I keep track of folks who write a kind word in their responses. I don't agonize over rejection. I admit that it hurts when you get very close, but I don't view it as a personal attack. I can't. Sure, it is personal. They didn't like your story as much as some others. But that doesn't mean that your story isn't good. It doesn't mean that you won't find a home for that story somewhere else.

I deal with rejection by returning to the word processor. I consult my file of story ideas and I head back to work. I don't burn 'em. I don't defile 'em. I don't do anything other than note them and move forward.

So let me ask you folks out there (my metrics don't lie, ya'll): How do you deal with rejection?

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