Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dear Writer: Keep Writing.

I received my 4th rejection letter. Though kinder than those that came before, it was still a rejection.

Hi Mandy, 

Thanks again for submitting to [Name of Journal]. Sorry it took us a little while to get back to you. For our current issue, we received nearly 1,100 submissions. Of these, we were able to publish about 5%. Regrettably, then, we are unable to publish "Middle School: Dante's Forgotten Circle of Hell" at this point in time. 

This being said, thank you so much for sharing your work with us--let alone even writing something in the first place--and helping us build a stronger literary community. We are currently accepting submissions for the next issue, and we look forward to seeing more work from you soon. 

Sincerely, 

[Name of Journal]

See? A very nice rejection letter. That took the sting out a bit and it also hurt a little less the 4th time around. But still. My heart began to falter. I began to wonder if I might not be "literary" material. Perhaps I'm a "popular" writer? If so, I can adjust to that. I began to rethink my vision of my future. Sure I was banged up, but still in the fight.

Then I got round-housed at work. Advertising is not a kind and gentle world. My writing was described as "underwhelming."

*Sigh*

So it was a bad day.

Had me feeling pretty low. Felt like the collective in my ad agency had taken to me with bats like an angry gang in an alleyway.

And then, in the midst of all of this, an email.

*Cue the angels choir*

Another email from the literary journal that rejected me just the day before. Only this time it read:

Hi Mandy, 

Just a quick follow-up on your submission, "Middle School: Dante's Forgotten Circle of Hell." Though we shall not publish this story, we are impressed with your writing ability, as it is extremely articulate and reflective. Your story is realistic, accurate, has a strong voice, and makes us remember the travails of adolescence. 

Thanks again for submitting to [Name of Literary Journal]. We hope you will consider us again in the future with new work. 

Sincerely, 

[Name of Journal]

And there it was. A moment of grace in an otherwise crappy day. I don't know why they wrote it. Yet there it was.

A glimmer of hope.

And I clung to it. God damn. I cling to it still.

29 comments:

  1. That is awesome! Well, all of the rejections aren't awesome, but I love that they wrote you a second letter telling you how great you are and encouraging you to try again. Cling onto those little glimmers of hope for dear life.

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    1. This is an awesome rejection letter! I agree.

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  2. Aww... both emails were "nice", that second one was so much more so simply because whoever wrote it didn't HAVE to. Someone who doesn't know you outside of that single essay took the time to encourage you, and that's pretty cool. Keepin' the hope alive, my friend!

    And thank you for bringing the perspectives of "literary writer" and "popular writer" up. Interesting subject, and one that I don't recall being brought up in too many of my writery circles. I'd love to hear more on that subject.

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    1. It's also referred to as "Mainstream" vs "Literary."

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/21/literary-novels-_n_3790198.html

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  3. Somebody really did a nice thing by taking the time to follow up with you. Frame that message!

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  4. Ah yes. A ray of light. (Just don't forget the sun block.)

    Have you considered self-publishing? I know the self-promotion is a bear but you have a ready-made platform with your blog...

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    1. I'm not there yet. But perhaps one day if I can't get published the traditional way….right now I'm just submitting to literary journals and magazines. Baby steps.

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  5. You're doing better than I am -- I don't have the courage to submit!

    Pearl

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    1. It took me long enough! You should join me!

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  6. We have to keep trying. I'm slammed all over this week, too. It makes me sad. And then I read what's published and I say HOLY HELL they should be! How good are they???!! And then I say to myself, crumble up, just for half an hour. Then get up, get back to it. You have to work, it's the only way to get better. Get working, keep reading, ask for opinions, see why what's in black and white is in black and white. Keep trying, Mandy.

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  7. Yay! That is an awesome follow-up email. Keep going Mandy

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  8. Yay! My dear, that's a big fat yes. It's just a not-right-now yes. You got this!

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  9. You will just keep tinkering and polishing your work and submitting it again. One day the buttons will be right and the drape perfect and you'll be accepted to the show. Then the next year you'll have to best that. And so it goes, through a long and happy career.
    PS--no matter the venue, all rejection letters suck.

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  10. It probably sounds cheesy, but every rejection puts you one step closer to publication. You will be published. You just have to go through the process. Most of the best authors received dozens and dozens of rejections.

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  11. As a former 7th/8th grade teacher(now retired and a librarian), I really would like to read that submission -circle of Hell, HaH!

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  12. Yay! You so deserved that. Your writing is strong and beautiful. People in advertising are probably some of the very worst judges of literary ability. And if it makes you feel any better, I guarantee my ad writing would underwhelm you on a daily basis...

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    1. *Snicker*

      I'm sure it wouldn't. But I'm not a jerk.

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  13. Wow, what a moment of grace! I would have been jigging around the house. Every bit of encouragement is fuel to the fire. Keep writing!! ;D You will rock them.

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  14. I keep thinking I'll go on a comedy circuit where me and other advertising industry friends will put on skits about the crap that happens to us in the agency world. Our audience would be solely agency folk and perhaps some clients with a good sense of humor. I think the bits are endless. Underwhelming. You should have told that person their face is underwhelming.

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