I Reject Your Reality and Substitute my Own

I think I’m getting a better handle on how to deal with rejection letters. Not that I dance with joy whenever one shows up in my inbox (“Oh, thank you, sir! May I have another?”), but I’m no longer freaking out. I’m even beginning to recognize “good” rejection letters.

I got one on Sunday for my short story “Crowntree” from a market that is labeled one of the hardest to break into. Frankly, I didn’t expect it to last long there. Back in December, I got an email from them and I figured, “Feh, another reject. Better get ready to send to another place.” Instead, it said that it had passed the initial reader and had gone to the editors for further review.

Of course, per Sunday, I didn’t get in. But it’s still heartening. It shows that at least one person liked my story enough to pass it to the higher levels. In fact, that may work in my favor if I send another story their way. And it just so happens that I’m working on a story now that might woo them. When I send it to them, I’ll put in the cover letter, “You may have passed on ‘Crowntree’, but maybe you’ll like this…”

That’s the thing with rejections. The writing experts tell you not to take it personally, just take note of it and move your story on. But you can learn a lot from rejections. If you get a whole slew of generic form letters in a row (and I’m not talking about a measly one or two. I’m talking ten or fifteen), then maybe you should take a look at revising your story. If you get some that say, “I really enjoyed this story, but it’s not what we’re looking for right now”, or “we can only fit so many stories into our magazine”, it means that you got something–you don’t have to worry about revising–but maybe you should change your submission strategy. Maybe.

I have a list of markets for my work, so when I get rejection, I mope over it a couple of seconds, then turn around and send it to the next one on my list. Occasionally, I do revisit my list, to see if I can add to it or if there are any markets I need to take off. And I always, always verify my information on the market I’m about to send to. ‘Twill suck if I send a story off, only to get a screaming email back, “It’s not our reading period.”

Finally, I’m learning not to sweat it. Rejection is part of a writer’s life. And really, I’ve just started sending stuff out. I’m still walking about on toddler’s legs with just a couple of stories circulating. I need to get out more stuff. Conversely, I need to write more stuff, because with each story I write, I get better. At least, that’s the theory, anyway. Hey, as far as I know, the stuff I’m writing could be mere drivel, with people merely humoring me in telling me that it’s good stuff…

Nope. Not going to listen to that. La, la, la…got my fingers in my ears…la, la, la…my writing is great. I am a great writer. I’m good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like me…