On Nice Rejection Letters

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.

4 thoughts on “On Nice Rejection Letters

  1. As you can imagine, I can totally relate, but with art rather than writing — though someday I totally want to dip my toe into the world of writing, too. I know, I'm a masochist. It's just that enough books I have read lately make me feel like, "You know, I can write at least this well." Only I have to figure out what to write about. How do you do it?

  2. you're a great writer, amy – you should definitely give it a shot! just write something you would want to read. if the writer is interested in what they're writing about, the reader will likely be engaged as well.

  3. Aw, thank you for saying so. It is definitely on my bucket list, to have at least a little something published in some form or another. :) Your is a good suggestion… I will keep that in mind! Part of me just wants to write about what I know, but another part would like to take a big bite into a research project. :) Hm, maybe I could combine the two!

  4. Heh…I got a rejection just this evening, but it was a kind one. I'd slaved over revisions of the story, and the editor remarked that he'd enjoyed it. I think it was more a case of the wrong market.

    Back out it goes!

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