Collecting Rejections

Posted by in Stuff About Writing

This morning I was checking my email while sitting on the toilet (come on, you do it too – plus, I’m a Mom, this might be the only quiet moment in my entire morning, and even then I can hear them lurking outside the door) when I got another one. A rejection. Another literary journal that regrets to inform me that my work has not been selected for publication. This one included a sweet note that “ultimately a very close call, so I hope this does not deter you from submitting other works in the future” which is pretty encouraging – but still. It’s a no. No’s suck. Usually I would spend the morning pouting, and feeling sorry for myself, but not today.

Fortunately, my friend Kendall sent me this link last night. It’s an article about how writers should aim to collect 100 rejections a year. The idea being that if you focus on getting as many “no’s” as possible, there are sure to be a few “yes’s” along the way. I buy that. Practice makes perfect, right? Plus, the idea that it’s the ‘no’s” that I’m trying to gather, takes a wee bit of the sting out of the negative response doesn’t it? If I’m sort of looking for a ‘no’ it feels like it hurts less – even though the New Yorker doesn’t want me, fuck them, I at least get to mark down another rejection on my handy chart. Maybe I’ll even buy myself a present if I get 100. Hmmmm… this has potential.

So, since I’m a type A, weirdly organized nutbar, I made a chart. 1-100 spots, with spaces for the name of the journal and the piece that they put in the garbage. Then, I went to my submittable account, and my email account, and all my other tracking spreadsheets to log every ‘no’ I’ve received in the last 6 months. I dug out my favourite green pen. I was sure there were going to be mountains of them, I cracked my knuckles in anticipation, it feels like I’ve been buried in “no,” I thought I for sure had 25 or more.  That treat was going to be mine. I started logging them in my fancy new chart. But….


What the……???

I have 10 rejections for all of the effort I’ve put in so far this year. It feels like so many more than that. I checked again. But no – only 10. And, I’ve had 3 pieces accepted for publication. That’s not so bad, I suppose. Certainly not NEARLY as bad as I thought it was. But, it also looks like I have a lot of work to do if I want to reach that 100 rejections goal and treat myself to new shoes/ice cream/new shoes and ice cream?

Better get back to work.