One of the inevitable things a writer will face is the rejection letter. I know, I know, we don’t even want to speak it into existence. We’re amazing writers. We surprise ourselves with the stories and worlds we create. The others must be Shakespeare to be chosen over us. That may be true, but let’s face it, rejection letters will come. So how do we get over the rejection hump? Keep writing!
Nothing should motivate us more than rejection. Acceptances make us lazy. We start to brag about all the literary magazines we’ve been published in. Suddenly, our third-person, contributor’s biographies become lists of our previous and forthcoming publications. We stop brainstorming for witty lines about our lives that could draw in readers. Instead, the few readers who do venture to the end of the magazine to read the contributors biographies are overwhelmed with long, wordy lists when all they wanted was to learn more about the writers whose stories they fell in love with. We become cocky, conceited. We expect our stories or poems to be accepted because of the extensive resume we provide in our cover letters, and when they don’t, it’s the magazine’s loss. The editors were stupid; they obviously couldn’t see our astounding talent.
Rejections, however, humble us. Although we hate them, they force us to realize that there is great competition out there. Just like there will always be someone in the world more attractive than we are, there will always be a better story being written.
Our job as writers is to keep writing. Don’t look at the magazine editors as idiots or at yourself as not good enough. Don’t listen to those people who say things like: “If you can’t get accepted in a college lit-mag, then you should just give up writing.” The fact that you’re pursuing a career in writing means that you have tons of potential. If reality TV stars can get published, then surely those of us with real skill can too, right? Subscribe to the magazines you plan on submitting to so that you can get an idea of what they’re looking for. Simultaneous submissions are ok, in fact, they are encouraged. Don’t put all your eggs into one basket. Doing so makes the rejection letter that much more discouraging. If . . . excuse me . . . when that story or poem is accepted elsewhere, make sure to let the other magazines know.
No writer looks forward to rejection, but we can make the best out of it, and one day, hopefully soon, we’ll receive the anticipated acceptance letter. Just remember: don’t let that head swell!