I’ve just finalized and posted the submissions requirements for the magazine, and it’s got me thinking about rejection. I’ve often compared submitting to fishing, preferring to think of magazines as perch or trout (The New Yorker, the almighty Northern) – indiscriminate entities ready to latch onto any flashy hook that dangles itself in front of them at reading, I mean feeding, time. But now I find myself in the position of the rejecter, the image I have of myself is not of a hungry fish, but of the hottest girl at the party.
I must confess, on the few occasions I found myself to be the hottest girl at the party, I rejected men fickly, relishing my power. As an editor, I will strive to reject with wiser judgment. My wealth of experience being the recipient of the rejection letter will finally come to some use, in this sense. For, though I have come across plenty of “Dear Writers,” a few personalized rejections, and even a couple “loved it, but it’s not quite right for us.” I have yet to receive a rejection letter that has offered any valuable suggestions for improving my writing; but this is no reason to become a crass and careless reader. We in the writing community have a responsibility to approach everyone’s work as we would like them to approach ours. That goes not just to the editors of a fledgling literary magazine, but also to the writers and readers out there who are struggling, or know someone who is struggling to improve their art.
Of course, there is little to be said to ease the pain of rejection, and to all the writers trying to get published: Don’t give up! Oh, you groan (I hear you), that’s easy for you to say. You, the hottest girl at the party, you with the power to crush hopes with a send button! And, yes, I confess it is much easier to be objective when it is not your ego on the line, but I say again: Don’t give up! And, maybe more importantly, don’t be intimidated by the rejection, because if you don’t risk rejection you will never be accepted.
For further discussion on the topic of the rejection letter, I suggest you read Bill Morris’s article in The Millions, “The Sorry State of the Rejection Letter.”
For tips on constructive ways to handle rejection, consult Dylan Moran’s YouTube video, “Rejection”
Or just be glad you’re not the guy in Martin Solveig’s music video, “Rejection.”