Things I Did After Each of 32 Rejections
March 20, 2018 § 31 Comments
- Marked the rejection on my list and reassured myself that it was only one
- Thought: two isn’t bad. Imagined the soaring joy of acceptance that would come with the next notification.
- Reread essay and decided I still liked it.
- Repeated to self: “Rejection is just another step on the way to success.”
- Read too much into the “In Progress” notification on Submittable.
- Ate chocolate.
- Reread the essay. Found words, phrases and whole sentences that could be cut. Clawed in anguish at the proverbial bosom. Cut the damn words.
- Sent the essay to another batch of journals. Checked Submittable in a non-obsessive way.
- Was able to quote from memory all of the variations: “We’re sorry, read with interest but, not for us, not the right fit, pass this time, good luck.”
- Ate more chocolate.
- Made another list of journals and sent the essay to a dozen of them. Nothing grim about it. Nothing at all.
- Castigated myself for ever imagining the soaring joy of acceptance.
- Watched Netflix during designated writing time.
- Reread the essay and decided it was awful. Got a friend to read it. Didn’t know if they were just being nice by saying they loved it.
- Sent out another batch.
- Considered whether “Received” or “In Progress” held more possibility. Decided both were inscrutable and, possibly, sinister.
- Went to Costco to stock up on chocolate.
- Marked off the rejection on my list and wondered if it would have been better if I had chosen another color besides red for my color-coding system.
- Determined that two Costco-sized bags of chocolate-covered blueberries were, in fact, inadequate for my needs.
- Resorted to sports analogies: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
- Made a pact with myself that I wouldn’t check Submittable any more.
- Checked Submittable.
- Reread the essay, decided it really wasn’t so bad.
- Got a pair of trusted eyes on the essay. Sank into the depths of frustration and despair when told, “It needs something.”
- Repeated to myself my first writing teacher’s encouraging words: “We’ll throw a party for the first person to get 50 rejections!” Half-way there!
- Realized that my only success might be in failure.
- Sent the essay out again because I was like those zombies I watched but shouldn’t have. Nothing could stop me but a blow to the head.
- Read articles claiming that sugar is the cause of all ills. Read articles stating that chocolate has 4 grams of protein per half cup.
- Decided that I couldn’t please everyone else and maybe couldn’t please anyone else but myself. Pretended that this made me powerful instead of lonely.
- Gave myself a stern lecture about doing the work for the work’s sake. Very nearly believed it.
- Decided that the essay did need something. It needed me to not give up on it.
- Checked Submittable.
A knitter, gardener and avid dog-snuggler, Lea Page lives in Montana with her husband. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Rumpus, The Pinch and Hippocampus, and she is the author of Parenting in the Here and Now: Realizing the Strengths You Already Have (Floris Books, 2015). Find her at www.LeaPageAuthor.com.
A woman after my own heart. Absolutely checked Submittable and also Duotrope for recent responses. (And shrieked when I realized I sent out the wrong draft, a draft with a typo in the first line . . . and chocolate.)
Or, sent the draft to one journal and put a different journal in the cover letter!!!! Argh!!
Potato chips. Otherwise perfect. #5! #20! And of course Netflix. Thanks Lea.
I too, pretend rejections don’t matter, and that the work will one day, with revision, speak for itself( somewhere over the rainbow) and turn to Halo instead of Haagen Das, trail mix instead of straight-up chocolate, and Hulu, having run out of NetFlick. I still hang on to hope with ” In -Progress…” but I believe in Fairies, too. Great post!
I read absolutely everything into the “in progress” designation. I imagine some editor (or editors) sitting late into the night, drinking coffee while they read and mull over my latest work with a keen, or perhaps cruel, eye.
Cheese and crackers, but yeah, otherwise this is me.
We make a new list of snacks.
This might be the perfect essay on writing. 🙂
Sadly all too relatable. I’d recommend not to check Submittable, but I know I’d be doing the same thing in your situation. Sometimes waiting to hear back can be torture haha.
I am better off when I don’t check, but…
Literally me through 2017.
*goes off right now to check if “received” has changed to “in-progress”*
Finished the tail end of a pack of M&Ms while reading this article.
Husband just arrived from Costco with 3 more bags!
yeah… so weird how you clearly have a secret camera in my dining room and can see me doing the SAME THINGS. i’m right there with you, girl, here’s to sweet treats and supportive writing friends and the unforeseen resilience that comes with a creative life.
A wonderful piece. Loved it!
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Relax it will work out for you if its any consolation JK Rowling was turned down by 12 publishers before one finally agreed to publish harry potter
Alas, relaxing doesn’t appear to be in my cards, but persevering is. 😀
You got rejected??
Me, my essay– gotta remember that they are not exactly the same thing!
I’m sorry, but my first reaction was “only 32?” 🙂
Yeah, well, I submitted one story to tiny, local journals before it was finally accepted by the more prestigious Calyx and won a prize from Oregon Literary Arts. I find that happens sometimes.
More recently, even though after short-listing they rejected my essay, the response from Missouri Review was “smarter” than from less prestigious journals. MR at least recognized what I was trying to do.
As a writer, I have to know what I am about because (personally) I do not understand the market. I fail often. Some work is immediately accepted—while the piece I consider my best work has been submitted well over 40 times. If I were smarter, I suppose I would write what editors want.