It Can Happen: Rejection and Other Good News

July 2, 2021 § 5 Comments

By Jenny Klion

Another day, another essay rejection. I rarely respond to rejection e-mails, unless they read clever or uplifting, and this one was same-old, dry but polite. “Thanks but no thanks, send us more work if you think it’s a match. Good luck placing that essay we don’t want.”

Here is how I’d like to respond:

“Oh hi Lit Mag, 7 months later. A lot has transpired since we last communicated, when you moved my submission status to ‘in progress.’ Thanks for that and also your note but I recently got a 6-figure book deal via a high-end lit agent, so reject away! I’m only bothered a little bit.”

Dare I press send? What terrible thing would happen if I did? Told the truth with a capital T, which I thought CNF was all about? Do I really have to keep being so proper and well-behaved all of the time? 

It’s this book deal! I’m feeling since like nothing can touch me, like it’s my birthday, every day, except I’m getting younger, or have more future ahead of me, though of course that’s not true. And also that I want to use this good news as a weapon, to point at certain specific someones. Yes, I’m that shallow, and in fact nothing has changed day to day, really. Except that a window is open, at least for a short while, and there’s a wonderful view, which is very satisfying after having had so many doors closed in my face. Also that high price per word, if I’m telling truth with an upper-case T, as in possibly TMI, even after the skim off the top and the split down the middle and the step payments, plus the taxes and what not, that is my best yet!

Over the years I’ve written thousands of words, hundreds of thousands, millions of words. Essays, and more essays, pieces of essays, ideas only, flash, memoir, all of those drafts, and more drafts, some that have seen the light but most have not. Plus cover letters and artist statements, residency and grant applications. The readings and prompts, and classes, endless classes, assignments, and newsletters, tips, how-tos, freebies, and the failures to boot. I once wrote in Brevity Blog about padding one’s word count, as if I needed more words! And then there’s the stuff I barely remember writing. 

Now I see, decades later, that my moment of Zen turned out to be the most petite of flashes—a kids picture book I wrote with someone else—for those in the buying position to sit up and take notice. Also, my writing partner here, my lifelong BFF, happens to be a successful film producer, with enviable representation. Also, I am aware of how gestalt can happen, and I’m just proud enough to take it however I can get it! It was a two-and-a-half-week whirlwind of agent and pub meetings, a book auction OMFG, offer/love letters my shrink suggested I turn into wallpaper, and the realization that I need zoom makeup, badly, which I got for Mother’s Day, along with a tutorial from my proud daughter #amcrying, and a month later I’m still floating back down to earth….

Ah look, here’s another essay rejection rolling in. I won’t say a word, like a good writer shouldn’t. Instead, let me pop it like a balloon and pin up the remains on my new wallpaper, because one couldn’t exist without the other. And get back to work on the next book, for which my partner and I have a ‘first look’ deal. 

It can happen.

Jenny Klion’s work has appeared in Ploughshares, Longreads, The Rumpus, The Hairpin, The Nosher, the Woodhall Press Anthologies Flash Nonfiction Funny2018, Flash Nonfiction Food, 2020, and more.

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