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I’m currently reading Betsy Lerner’s The Forest for the Trees, and because her view on receiving submission rejections mirrors my own, I want to share it with you.

“REJECTION IS A FACT OF WRITING LIFE.” Yes, it’s formatted exactly like that in the book, caps and all.

“If you are just starting out, try to look at rejection as a ladder. The first rung is made up of form letters that offer some trite condolence about why your work isn’t right for the literary journal, magazine, or publishing company. The next run might still be form letters, but now an editor has scrawled a note: Try us again!”
Lerner goes on to say how the next rung may seem like a small step, but it is really the equivalent of a moon landing: the personal letter. Not a Dear Author/Writer but a Dear Angela. And yes, it’s still a Dear John type letter but I call these Really Good Rejections. When I get these, I'm disappointed but in a really upbeat kind of way. These are almost-there rejections and show that you are on the right track. “And chances are, if you stick with it, that close call will eventually become …” the “fourth rung: bull’s eye! Then those magic words: We are pleased to inform you . . .”

So take it one rung at a time, and keep climbing. You’ll get there.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 10th, 2014 03:12 pm (UTC)
I save all my rejections. I actually feel a sense of accomplishment even with the "bad" ones. My favorite good one is from an editor who wrote the entire letter in colorful marker. Even though she said no, it made me happy that she'd handwritten the rejection in a colorful way.
Mar. 8th, 2014 05:58 pm (UTC)
Like Jenn, I used to save the "good" rejections. I cut them out, deleting the words that came after "but," and made a collage of them, on a piece of cardboard. I eventually threw it out when I moved, but I remember most of the comments and could recreate it if I wanted to.
Mar. 10th, 2014 03:14 pm (UTC)
That's a great idea. This way we can focus on the positive comments and make an inspirational piece of art to display in our writing space.
Mar. 10th, 2014 08:40 pm (UTC)
I have a bunch of those "good" letters in a folder, and keep the good emails, too. I may have some of the nondescript ones as well, although I recently cleaned out a lot of stuff, and I know at least some of them were tossed.

The letters show that we are getting our work out there in the world, and that means we are trying. If we didn't have the letters, it would likely mean we'd given up, which is not an option!
Mar. 16th, 2014 01:11 pm (UTC)
I keep all my rejections in a huge Walker's shortbread tin. There's plenty of room for more. Persistence is my middle name. Or is it Tenacity?
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


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