Oh, that one hurt.

By Melanie Yarbrough

I’m actually surprised it took this long. I’ve been writing for a while now, and I’ve read more essays and chapters on rejection in writing than I care to recount. I’ve always known it’s part of the territory, that not many people will enjoy my writing, not many journals or places will agree when I say a story is done. Anyway, I received this email today and felt, for the first time, my stomach drop in disappointment:

Dear Melanie,

Thank you for trusting [journal name] with your work for our first fiction contest. Unfortunately, it has not been chosen as a finalist. We wish you the best of luck in placing it elsewhere, and thank you again for considering [journal name] as a venue for publication. Without quality submissions such as yours, our journal would not exist.

I have a story due to my writing group, uh, last night, but I’m feeling a little under the weather when it comes to creating or finishing something new. I’m hoping plowing through Anne Roiphe’s memoir will help spark something that rejection can’t squelch.

Don’t let me feel so alone here: What’s your biggest rejection so far?

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6 thoughts on “Oh, that one hurt.

  1. I think they all hurt in some way, but it usually depends on my mood. If I’m in a great mood or just sent out my story to a ton of journals, then it doesn’t really upset me. Everyone likes different things and that’s what is so great about there being a lot of outlets out there. But if I’m already mad about something or experiencing that fear of never coming up with an idea of a story ever again, then those rejections hurt the most. Keep going at it though! I’m always surprised by the editors who did end up liking my work 🙂

    • Thank you! It’s definitely a hurt that was a long time coming, which is why I wrote about it here. I’m excited to move forward with the story and find the proper home for it though. Any suggestions for how you found those editors/magazines that liked your stories?

      • I’ve spent the last few years just searching out short story magazines, collecting their submission guidelines and making a master list of ones I think my writing has a chance of being accepted to. I also store those links in my favorites under a Story Story tab. Then when I have a story I’ve rewritten so many times I can’t look at it anymore, I send it out to a dozen magazines at a time and document it. Then when rejections start coming in, I send it off to different ones. It’s time consuming, but every magazine likes something different. Good luck!

  2. Bea says:

    I am not a writer but as a painter I receive a fair share of rejections from residencies, exhibit opportunities, grants, etc – and each time my stomach drops. It’s not a good feeling! My advice: start two file folders. One file for acceptance letters (yay!) and one for rejection letters (boo) – when you are feeling low about a rejection go through both of your files and admire how many leaps you have taken and how hard you have worked to get yourself out there. It will make you smile (or at least it makes me) to know how passionate you are about your work, and will remind you that rejection is all part of the game.

    Wine also helps.

  3. The Girl says:

    Am digging my heels in for a season of rejection, I think. It’s hard not to doubt every last adjective, isn’t it?

    • Bea – Great idea with the two file folders. I will definitely start doing that. I want to start journaling in general, but more specifically about triumphs and setbacks, to keep a catalog of my writing life and watch out for any patterns I can improve on.

      Jill – It is, indeed. A story I was convinced was finished I am now afraid to re-read, afraid to see through fresh stranger eyes. Ah well, the goldilocks life we writers lead.

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