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Rejection

Categories: MFA Confidential Blog.

Every writer knows the feeling of rejection: the email with the subject line: “Re: Your submission to XXX Review..”

I always brace myself before opening it, expecting the worst: sort of the way I get when I get an email that says: “XXX tagged you in a picture on Facebook,” when my first thought is usually: how God-awful do I look in this picture, and how many people have already viewed it before I’ve had a chance to un-tag myself?

And usually, there is reason to be pessimistic. We all know about the massive slush piles editors face, the 1% acceptance rate, the fact that writers get rejected so many times that there is actually a magazine, The Rejected Quarterly, that only takes submissions with at least five rejection letters attached to it.

The rejections are nearly always form letters; short, polite, and unspecified. I’ve learned to read them, delete them, mark them on my submission spread sheet, and move on. But have you ever gotten a really nice rejection letter? Last year, I submitted to a fairly prestigious magazine, and though I was rejected, the editor sent me a personal email telling me that she loved the story, listing the reasons why, and ensured me that this was not a standard rejection.

I didn’t know how to feel—happy? Everyone loves to hear praise from a source they respect. But ultimately, I was still rejected. It was sort of like one of those rare really nice break-up conversations. The editor told me that the story just didn’t fit with the style of the stories they usually published, and she was rejecting it on those grounds. But she encouraged me to resubmit in the future.

I did, and I never heard back.

So my question this week is, how do you feel about rejection, and how do you deal with it? What is the most memorable rejection letter you’ve ever gotten?

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3 Responses to Rejection

  1. In my early thirties, many years ago, I submitted a short story to Red Book magazine. It was the first thing I’d written with being published in mind. I received a letter saying they couldn’t use it but liked it and please send more. I never did. I never even tried to write for many years. Now I have begun writing fiction again and submitting. So far, two form rejections, two no replies. Most say query like mad, query everyone. I am trying to be more devoted to that.

  2. Kary says:

    Actually it was my first rejection the agent told me that they had a debate before they decided not to represent me. To this day I’m not quiet sure on how to feel about it. Its flattering that they fought over it, but I still got rejected.

    How I dealt with it? Well I just kept writing a few months later. I went back to that story and made some major changes to it. I’m very happy actually that she rejected me. The book would be the great story it is today maybe when I get the courage I try to send it out again.

  3. Katie says:

    My most memorable rejection was the first and not necessarily for that reason. I was over confident when I submitted. However, an inside source from the same review told me he got to write the big "YES" on my piece this year!

    I keep my rejection letters somewhere in the troves of my email. Maybe one day I’ll print them all out and use them to write naughty words on the wall (that’s what my dad did) or something crazy and rebellious like that.

    Katie

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