Beat Your Fists Through the Static and the Noise

Cliff Burns made a name for himself by publicly venting his spleen after years of rejection letters. A former editor recently mused at The Guardian about both the writing and receiving of rejection letters, because apparently there will soon be an entire book of them. There’s even a quite clever blog devoted to literary rejection. It seems that writers and publishers like nothing better than to discuss their rejection experiences in the harsh halogen glare that is the public eye. Allow me, then, to add my voice to theirs; I got another rejection letter today (well, rejection email, I guess, since I asked to be informed that way, to save on stamps).

I had sent my story to a newish publication, not entirely certain it was right for them, but hoping that they would accept it anyway—after all, they might still be struggling to define their vision. They did not accept it, and told me so in a simple, polite letter. So what did I do? This afternoon I wrote another cover letter to a different publication, printed another copy of my story, stuffed the whole thing into an envelope, and walked to my nearest post box. The rejection elicited exactly zero emotional reaction from me. Just like every other rejection letter I’ve ever gotten. Where is my spleen? Where is my bile, my anger, my self-righteousness? I’m really proud of my story. I think it’s wonderful. I think other people should consider it wonderful. To top it off, I’m a notorious suck about other kinds of rejection. Bad job interviews (or applications that result in no interviews) send me to a pint of Tofutti—it was Ben & Jerry’s until I stopped being able to eat dairy. Romantic failure breaks me. I am a sentimental fool at the best of times. I feel like my spleen is missing out on some much needed exercise here. Okay, every writer knows that at some point he or she is going to get one of these. It’s not my first, and no doubt it’s not my last. It comes with the job, but somehow, given all the hullabaloo I brought up in the first paragraph, I can’t help but feel like it’s almost unwriterly of me not to be upset.

I suppose I should mention, since I promised updates on my novel-in-progress, that I put my novel aside back in June for personal reasons, and did no writing at all until August, when I attended the Salon des Refusés launch party. I was so inspired that I went back to some short fiction I had lying around. I now have one story out there looking for a home, and at least three more packing their things, combing their hair and asking me for bus fair. Fingers crossed.

Also, I apologize for the lack of updates here recently. We’re on the cusp of the holidays season, and things are hectic around Casa del August. Normal posting will most likely resume next weekend.


Writer. Editor. Critic.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.