I Hate Literary Rejections

As any and all of my writer friends/readers know, one of the toughest parts about being a writer is rejections. Man, they sting. Even after hundreds of acceptances, the stack of rejections still appears ominously large. And while you might get somewhat inured to the pain, there’ll always be that rejection that knocks you off your feet. One of the toughest for me this year was a story for which I was asked to do a rewrite. It was a literary magazine I’ve greatly admired and I was so thrilled that they liked the story enough to ask me for changes. I worked on those edits for a while, then resubmitted. Six months later, rejection. Crushing. I had to grit my teeth and move on. Having a few acceptances in some other places I’ve wanted to get in for years has fortunately offset much of that pain. But it still stings.

Starting this year, I decided to really focus my submissions on specific magazines. With most of my focus on my novel(s), I’ve really spent a lot of time getting familiar with the magazines I want to get into so that when I do have some time to write new stories, I can kind of have a sense of what they like. That has resulted in a higher ratio of acceptances in magazines I’ve been dreaming of getting into (and I’ll post those when the magazines actually come out). But every time a new wave of rejections comes in, you’ll have to forgive me if I’m busy sewing together the wounds on my heart, ha ha.

I loved this article in which 12 famous writers talk about literary rejections. It includes Asimov, Rowling, and Neil Gaiman. One of my favorites is by Sylvia Plath: “I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.”

Check it out!




2 thoughts on “I Hate Literary Rejections

  1. The hardest of rejections comes when you feel you have a solid “foot in the door,” sort of speak. I recently applied to graduate school at three places (one reacher, one reasonable, and the last a shoe-in). After speaking with the director of the MFA in Creative Writing program, I felt a solid chance for the reasonable. We had a good conversation, talking about modern literature, the classics, aspects/aesthetics of creative writing, but for reasons unbeknownst to me, I was rejected. Now, I know nothing in this world is 100% guaranteed (even the “shoe-in” school, which I was accepted to for an M.A. in English Literature), but it was an arrow wound to the heart that, perhaps because I built myself up to believe that I was good as gold for the second school.

    We live and learn. I understand this is about literary magazines and the like, but I felt this was related to your post. Good content; I’ll be reading more.

    • I totally hear you experiencelit and thanks for sharing that. I’m sorry that the ‘reasonable’ didn’t work out, and definitely related. I know established writers always tell struggling writers to have steel skin, and sometimes, being impervious to pain (or at least being able to cast it off) seems as essential to success as talent to some extent, ha ha.

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