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