On Rejection

Thank goodness I’m lazy and don’t post often. I’ve found that this seemingly negative personality trait leads to the universe covering for me. If I wait long enough, the post I would have written–intended to write–appears out of thin air (or on my Twitter feed). In this case it’s on Brevity Magazine’s blog, a post by Allison Williams called “Rejection Is Not Feedback.”

The key point in the article is: “One rejection tells us one specific thing: this journal couldn’t use this piece at this time. None of those variables is a judgment on the quality of our work.” But Williams illustrates it with an extended, and quite apt, sweater shopping analogy. And who doesn’t like extended, apt sweater shopping analogies?

I am in the process of submitting my novel to agents for possible representation and submitting several shorts stories to journals and contests. Acceptances, or even encouraging words, come in waves, with long, deep troughs between them. I’m in one of the latter now, sitting on the exposed ocean floor among flopping fish and starfish carcasses, reading my almost daily emails reminding me of how unwanted I really am. I know, as Williams so deftly illustrates–and as I experienced working as a reader for Qu (a literary magazine)–a “no” from an editor is more likely the result of the traffic that morning than anything you wrote down. It is certainly not a “never” to your piece or your viability as a writer. But still.

So what do you do to keep the rejection blues at bay? Submit a lot is one strategy both Williams and I favor. Odds are, you’ll find your market. I also try to find other ways to get feedback on my work — trusted readers, conferences and workshops, an MFA. And I keep on writing and, perhaps more importantly, learning. The more I hone my craft, the surer I’ll be (this is the theory anyway) that it really isn’t about me.

What I’m reading: Rachel Khong’s Goodbye, Vitamin

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