09 May 2014

land mines: multiple perspectives on rejection

Land Minds: Multiple Perspectives on Rejection
I think by now most of you know how I feel about rejection, both as a writer and a reader/editor. And I think it's time we all face the facts about that blossoming field of potential rejections waiting for us on the submission battlefield: your chances of finding a safe path through the field without stepping on a land mine are slim to nil. Even some of the best writers (and by "best" I simply mean "big, recognizably named" writers) acknowledge and admit to facing rejection upwards of 70% of the time. Think about that. If you send out ten submissions this month, you might get three of them accepted. Maybe. No guarantees. And, honestly ... don't count on it.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying that your writing isn't the bomb-dot-com. And somewhere out there I bet there are writers who send out 50 submissions and get, like, 40 acceptances. For someone, the trouble is picking who to turn down as the publisher instead of who to "hates forever." (I tend to go Gollum on rejections, forgive me.) You may be the super star of submissions, that icon of the writing ages who pins down ONLY the places that are, like, 90% certain of accepting your work before you submit it ... but don't count on it.

So let's take on the rejection mine field. Let's face it, and see what we're getting into. Here are some perspectives on rejection from the web-- Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to peruse them and get ready. Prepare yourself. Come to grips with what's out there, and what may be coming your way. I dare you. You dare.

First, head to the Rejection Wiki, a collected wiki site of tons of literary journal rejection letters. If you're going to be submitting, you might as well know in advance what a rejection letter might look like.

Then mosey on over to read this piece from writer Chris Orcutt on "Crossing the Rubicon" ... aka responding to a rejection letter. Because we all, at some time or another, want to do it, and what d'ya know, here's someone who did.

Whether you cheer or boo-hiss Orcutt's response to his rejection, this must-read from Roxane Gay addresses why writers must learn to accept rejection. Because when it comes to writing, "Rejection is the rule, not the exception."

 This semi-oldie-but-goodie from Review Review address "What Editors Want," and gives you some insight into both why the reading process is impersonal ... and why it sometimes really does get personal (for both good and bad reasons).

Finally, as a reminder that "rejection is an imperative test of one's character," head over to this site and see why you should never give up as a writer for the sake of a rejection ... or a dozen rejections.

Your Turn: Share your views on rejection, these pieces, and the thoughts on writing and submitting and publication that they inspire in the comments below! 


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1 comment:

  1. Sorry to be so late with this...I love this particular day...rejection at one time could have been my undoing (and some days still brings a great deal of uncertainty with it, the questioning - why am I doing this sort of thing, happily more short-lived all the time). When I read the "Crossing the Rubicon" essay part of this, I realized I have had a similar (although not nearly as important, nor potentially costly, a reaction to a rejection I received). Without naming names - the publication's mainly, I've posted here, the rejection and my reply to it...I should mention that this publication has published my work before, are open to quite avant garde work, and even more "out-there" bios. I do really like their publication and was only slightly annoyed with the cavalier attitude to their "feedback" bit. They did say if poets submitting wanted feedback whether they got published or not, they should say so. I did, and they wrote what they wrote. This was my first correspondence with them that was signed so ignominiously (alright, that's harsh) but I think they could have made a bit of an effort here, as well. In any case, while I do enjoy their humour and "jousting" with them...my reply to their rejection is accurate. I doubt I will send them anything for a good long time...

    The rejection note I received that kicked off my angst...would not fit in this comment section so here's a link to it on one of my blogs


    To return briefly to the topic at hand..thanks Khara...for all the information and where to find out how different publications reject (especially at different levels) - useful and fascinating.


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