A writer’s life is filled with rejection.  It takes a lot of hard work to become a J.K. Rowling or a Stephen King, and on their way there, even they received rejection after rejection before they became household names.

So when you decide to be a writer, you sign yourself up for the mother load of rejections.  You know it’s coming, no matter how hard you work.  No matter where on the scale the quality of your work falls, it may not match the vision of the places where you are submitting your work.

So, when that email pops up – the one that comes from the place you really wanted in on, it breaks your heart.

It happened to me.  In the middle of a normal work day. How do you concentrate on anything when something like that happens?

I read the rejection email.  I reread it because I just couldn’t have seen that right.  And then I went to the bathroom at my job and cried away half of my lunch break.  I swore the editors wouldn’t know a good piece of writing if it bit them on the ass (which was ridiculous, since I read and loved previous issues), and I swore I would never write again.

And then I took a deep breath and saw things as they really were.  My vision and the magazine’s vision of the story didn’t match up.  And that was okay.  There would be other magazines, there would be other stories.

The first cut is the deepest, as they say.  I opened up a chat window and reached out to my Allegra-shaped friend, one of my two dearest friends.  I said, “I can’t lose my mind over this.  This is what the rest of my life is going to be like.”  Clearly, I was a masochist when I chose this profession.

Did I want that?  Could I live a life where these children of mine, these tales birthed from my brain, personal emotions spun into art, could be rejected…often?

I wasn’t sure I could.  I got on the train to go home that night and there was a weight on my shoulders, a question on my mind.

And instead of thinking about it like I had sworn to myself I would do, I took out a pen and my notebook and I started writing.  A new short story, a rejection-gatherer of its own (it already has one!)

So why write?

Because I can’t not write.  Because a simple train ride home that was supposed to be spent in quiet contemplation became the seed of an idea.  Because when I try not to write, I write anyway.  Because nothing interests me the way telling a story does.

Because for every hundred rejections, there has got to be an acceptance.  And that acceptance feels incredible.  I know.  I lived that one too.  So I will keep dreaming and keep writing.  Because it’s not the publication I’m writing for.

It’s the feeling of creation I’m writing for.  And no discouraging moment can take that away.

What keeps you pursuing your dream despite the rejections?  Share below!

8 thoughts on “Reject

  1. Thank you for sharing this. Getting those rejection notices makes me physically ill. Even the thought of future rejection makes me physically ill! I can let that paralyze far too often.

    So I love your perspective and the working through all of it and pushing past it. It inspires and encourages me to keep after it. Not to keep writing–because I couldn’t stop that–but to keep putting it out there.

    And I have no doubt whatsoever that you will get that acceptance–lots of acceptances really! None. And I will totally say that I knew you when! 😉

    1. I think my “favorite” (read: sarcastically) part of a rejection is that moment when you see the email and JUST KNOW this is the acceptance. And then you read it. Can you hear the sound of my heart being CRUSHED?

      Yeah, I’ll admit, I’ve been working longer to edit the novel because I thought the short stories were perfect and then they keep getting rejected. So, I look at the novel with a bit more scrutiny because of the FEAR.

      And you…you are the best! Thank you so much. I don’t know if you are right, but I appreciate that you have that much faith in me. 🙂

  2. I had the… maybe good fortune (?) to have my first rejection email be particularly brutal. It was actually off balance too because it was for a flash fiction zombie piece (for an anthology of such pieces) that it took me about an hour to work out. Not a lot of effort. However, I liked what I produced and it got the most brutal rejection letter ever. It was as follows:


    That was the whole email. Man, the way my hackles rose. But I guess that’s the good part of it–the anger. It was the tiniest of amateur publishing firms and a wildly unprofessional rejection letter and, because of it, I don’t think any others coming in my future will ever be as bad. They’d have to have a ClipArt middle finger with large, bold, bright gradient text reading, “YOU SUCK!” for me to be more put off. And I’m grateful for that.

    1. Jeez! They don’t mess around, huh? You probably should be grateful for that though because it can’t get much worse than that. P.S. I’ve seen a couple of other flash fiction sites that deal mostly in spec fiction. You should look into submitting to them. Forget that anthology. What do they know?

  3. Pingback: “Tunneling” to be Published! | Pieces of the Puzzle

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