more on rejections

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I have sent out three stories to thirty-three literary journals. So far I’ve received fourteen rejections, three of which have urged me to submit again (citing that I was not sent their “usual” rejection slip).

Last night, I received two of those fourteen rejection slips, after a long and exhausting day at work. I came home past dinnertime, already gritting my teeth when I recognized my handwriting on the two self-addressed stamped envelopes I’d included with my submissions. Ugh. I just ripped them open, knowing what was inside. Yup. A rejection. Okay. Yup. Another rejection.

I pinned them on my bulletin board, where I am, for my own reasons, keeping my rejection slips. It makes me feel like I’ve at least sent my work out.

I’ve made sure to pin up copies of past acceptances to writing residencies and litmags next to those rejections to stop me from dipping into the dark ocean, of course.

Then last night, my subconscious reached out to me.

In my dream last night, someone knocked on our door, of course arousing our dogs in a chorus of barks. I was still tired from work, my lips pressed into a thin line. Who could it be–we, and our dogs, wondered. It was a delivery person (my dream did not specify whether it was FedEx, UPS, or DHL).

My husband came in and handed me an envelope, “Good news!”

It was a package envelope–not one I’d sent. With a mailing sticker on it, from a good litmag that I hadn’t even submitted my work to, in real life. I guess in my dream, I had submitted my short story to them.

I opened the envelope and inside was a short story of mine–jsut two random pages of it, but there was critique all over it, in a large and confident scrawl of handwriting. Expand on this, change that, etc., etc.

And there was a handwritten note saying to please make the edits and re-submit. It was a note of encouragement. My subconscious, I guess, is telling me that I’m getting closer. Keep it up.

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12 Comments

Filed under Dreams, Inspiring, Publishing, Writing

12 responses to “more on rejections

  1. What a great dream! I’m sorry about the rejections, though.

  2. With a dream that detailed, I’m thinking you’ve got a rewrite request on the way. Hope it’s true πŸ™‚

  3. JDo

    ug, rejections (from academic journals for research) are the story of my life right now. we always get comments from the editor plus a couple of referees, which add another layer of pain to the rejection. when a journal asks for revisions, they almost invariably make the paper worse…

    but, i keep telling myself, the rejections are never personal and there’s an element of randomness to the process. and you have to have a thick skin for a career publishing in academic journals.

    so, sorry i don’t have any words of encouragement but i can sort of understand your situation. it sorta sucks but you have your whole life and a whole lot of opportunities waiting for you. or so i tell myself πŸ™‚

  4. Susan: Yep, it was a pretty good dream. And I found out which litmag it was, once I woke up and spotted a copy on my vanity chair! I must’ve subconsciously processed it.

    And as for Scrivener, would be happy to show it to you.

    Seth Fleisher: I hope so!

    JDo: You keep on keepin’ on, and I will too…It must be so tough to publish in academic journals, too.

  5. Did you ever hear about how the New Yorker used to reject Isaac Bashevis Singer’s stories even at the end of his life, when he was a total icon and demi-god in NYC? They published stories of his. They just didn’t publish every story he sent. He said it let him know they were actually paying attention.

    I’m really proud of you. You are doing the work and you are going to get there. You inspire me, thank you.

  6. Great dream! You’ll have success very soon, I’m sure.

  7. Nice dream — I urge you to listen to it! (If only my subconscious would edit me in my sleep.)

    I, too, am inspired by you.

  8. Ugh, rejection. I’m waiting to hear about a residency/fellowship I really want. Wish I’d have a good dream about it.

  9. Your dream is one step ahead of you, in absolutely the direction you’re headed. Good luck with this. I think there’s something necessary about all these rejections and the work involved in processing them — it has to do with achieving a deeply held conviction that your work is good, and getting better, and that nothing — not even all those sase’s with “no thanks” inside — can keep you from writing and sending things out into the world. It’s paradoxical that this should come about through rejection, but it does.

  10. Leila: you are a great heart. Thank you for believing in me–and you inspire me too.

    nova: Okay, I found the litmag and am going to submit to it–wouldn’t it be funny if THAT was the litmag that finally did accept my story? haha.

    Kristin Ohlson: Good luck on your residency/fellowship application! I wish you good dreams.

    bloglily: That is a great philosophy for sending out submissions.

    I also think it’s funny that when we send work out we are “submitting,” putting ourselves in a vulnerable, submissive position. It’s when we’re vulnerable, I think, that we show our greatest strength/s.

  11. Dude, any interest in submiting your REJECTIONS to the blog at Literary Rejections On Display? Would love to post them. Check it out at http://www.literaryrejectionsondisplay.blogspot.com

    I’m going to link to this post. I’m digging your blog.

  12. Writer, Rejected: thanks! But I’m so lazy about scanning them, and I don’t have a scanner (and finding one would require some diligence–the opposite of lazy). I have quite a handful! I’ll keep them–and if I come across a scanner, I’ll happily scan them in and send them off to you!

    Thanks for linking.

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