I’ve been impatient lately for rejections. I sent a whole slew of stories out back in May (and before that, February), so they should be coming in at a nice clip instead of a drizzle. Bring the NO, people!
The rejections themselves are always interesting. I got a couple perfunctory ones lately in my SASEs – both were on stingy quarter pages. I also got a foregone conclusion email a couple weeks back. But two really nice rejections came through recently. First, ZYZZYVA. This was, hands down, the kindest form rejection I have ever received. Submit to them for the pleasure of reading such lovely words! I also got a form rejection from Michigan with a hand-written note that I was so happy to see. That one came on a Friday, but Seth stuck it at the bottom of the mail pile, keeping it from me for several days in an attempt to preserve my tender feelings. I have assured him that I have no such tender feelings; I kind of amaze myself at how little rejection stings in this context.
I think a lot of it is understanding that it’s just not personal. That journals are trying to find the right mix of fiction/nonfiction/poetry that creates a cohesive through-line for a given issue while speaking to the overall editorial focus. I also have trouble judging my own work at times; a story that I thought was rather lame was a finalist for publication in a journal this past spring. They ultimately passed on it, but that it got as far as it did suggests that maybe it doesn’t suck. It’s all about finding the right reader for a given project, and that’s hard to predict. So I don’t mind collecting story rejections. It’s not so bad.
Novel rejections, though: there’s a sting I haven’t subjected myself to yet.
(Also: only peripherally related laugh from The Hairpin, The Day You Get Your MFA in Poetry.)