How I Feel When I Get Rejected

Rejection letters! They’re a fact and function of submitting stories to various markets. My most recent additions to the “pile of sadness” include a rejection from Podcastle (rad audio podcast for fantasy stories) and my semi-annual rejection from Writers of the Future.

I get rejection letters, do you? How do you feel when you get them? I’m curious to hear from other’s about their experience and in turn, share my own. Usually the process goes like this:

  1. Send off a submission. Immediately re-read the e-mail and fret that I missed some grammatical error or skipped a step in the submission process.
  2. Look at the average reply time, and pretend like I’m not anticipating the e-mail.
  3. Once the average reply time gets close, stop pretending and check e-mail every forty minutes.
  4. Receive an e-mail from the market I submitted to!  Hey! A thrill of excitement and tension in the space between recognizing the e-mail address and reading the actual e-mail.
  5. Thanks to Gmail, immediately see the first line of the e-mail. See something along the lines of “Thanks for your submission, but-” or “Your story did not win” or something equally polite.
  6. Sense of anticipation is now mingled with disappointment. There is a detached sense of embarrassment for offering a sub-standard story to the market and for wasting a slush reader’s time.
  7. Tuck the e-mail into my “rejection letters” folder, and move on to doing something like reading my Tumblr for a while. Possibly use the rejection as a means to justify getting frozen yogurt.

I think that out of all of that, its the embarrassment that bothers me. I hate that feeling, and it bugs me that I react that way. The rational part of me knows that my story was read and then forgotten but the stupid part of me that remains in high school would prefer if I just hid all of the other stories I have in the back of my hard drive rather than put myself through that again. Fortunately that part of me had been outvoted for quite some time now, so it gets shoved into its own little locker and I keep trying.


IN OTHER NEWS THAT IS RELATED TO THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER, I finally got a fire in my but about NaNoWriMo and am reaching for that brass ring. Watch my word count jump up in the next few days! Yes I am dumb.

So how do you react? Anger, shame, apathy? Do you keep the rejection letters or delete them? Do you listen to your sad music of choice for a while and then soldier on? I am almost certain this is a straw man that I’ve created but I imagine that there are still writers who have stories that remain un-submitted for fear of rejection. I promise, it doesn’t hurt for long! It’s like…what, getting vaccinated? It hurts for a little, and if it is a tetanus shot then you’ll be sore for a few days, but afterwards you’ll be stronger! Your stories will be stronger! You’ll be… less susceptible to whooping cough?

Okay, I lost that metaphor.   I hope that every writer who reads this has their own rejection story because gosh darn it, it means you’ve tried.




2 thoughts on “How I Feel When I Get Rejected

  1. Rachel says:

    Awww, I’m sorry about Writer’s of the Future, but look at your Nano word count! You’re almost halfway there! 21,000 is a lot of words :).

    I’ve suggested to Erik that we get one of those spikes that restaurants use for receipts so he can print out rejections and shove them down on it. I think that would be totally cathartic.

    Can’t say that I’ve ever attempted to submit a writing thing, but I get embarrassed like that all the time about my work products and my quilts. I never want to show them to other quilters because I’m just a newbie and my stuff isn’t any good and it’s all stuff they’ve seen before and it’s a waste of their time, etc.

    Call me the next time you’re “justifying” getting fro-yo. I still hurt a little inside when I think of how much I miss Cefiore 😦

  2. arranbhansal says:

    Rejection letters are awful….I wrote a post about it, key thing is that you come through each time stronger. Read what I’ve written about editors too, it’s an honest state of the publishing market.

    Great post

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