Rejection letters are par for the course for any writer. I go through phases of being consistent and systematic with my submissions, dutifully keeping track of every story in an Excel spreadsheet. (It’s a good way to know how many months have elapsed between submissions, and also to track which stories I’ve sent out to multiple magazines.) (Yes, I am one of those people who blatantly ignores the “NO SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS, PLEASE. EVER. SERIOUSLY. THANK YOU.” rule. I’m thoughtful and careful about it, though, promise!)
Recently I’ve fallen behind on submissions, mostly because many of the stories I would send out are going in Bats or Swallows, and my pool of submission-ready stories has therefore dwindled, but there are still a few floating out there in the literary magazine ether. Every so often I’m reminded of them when I see my own handwriting on an envelope in the mail (god, I can’t wait until the day SASE’s are no longer so prevalent) or get an email in my inbox. At this point I’ve received enough rejection letters to not feel so stung by their arrival – usually enough months have passed since my submission that I comfort myself with a “I’m a much better writer now!” thought, and then I promptly trash the email or letter. I’m not the type who files them away as motivation; I have better things to wallpaper my walls with. But every so often I get a nice rejection letter. And while nice rejection letters can’t be listed on a CV, I’m still always grateful for them. This afternoon while I was wallowing in the mid-afternoon blues that have the tendency to hit you when you’re working your office day job, I idly checked my email and saw that I had received one of those nice rejection letters. The email had exclamation points, encouragement and compliments, and I felt a puffed up “maybe this is kinda worth it?” hopefulness.
Even though the ultimate decision was a no, it definitely made me feel better than a rejection letter I received years ago where the editor mailed me back my story and simply wrote across the top, “Sorry, no.” Pfft. I’m a much better writer now, anyway.