the collection….of rejection slips


I’ve been collecting my rejection slips. I’m not sure why I do this, really, but at this point, there’s a stack of rejection slips pinned to a bulletin board next to the kitchen.

Some days, they really satisfy me–it makes me feel like I’m putting myself out there, taking risks! That’s the way it should be, even if I fall flat on my face a lot. Other days, it’s a miserable reminder. My husband wonders why I collect the rejection slips and threatens to discard them. “This is f*cked up!” he says, pointing to the multicolored stack of hodgepodge rejections pinned to the bulletin board in the mudroom.

The other day, I wondered what they would look like, if they were to be spread out on the floor. Hrm. So I did just that. And took a picture (sans the rejections from litmags that take online submissions–they email rejections and my irl name/email is on every single one of them–so I’ve excluded them). They add up to a small handful.

I’m still waiting to hear from a few more litmags. Some have held my piece for more than 4 months–but of course, I’m afraid to ask for status. They’re probably rejected–worse yet, rejected and forgotten. I’ve already queried a few magazines who had my piece for longer than 6 months to that very outcome: We have no record of your submission but we didn’t accept it…or You must not have gotten our rejection slip.

This happens even with online submissions–I check the online submission status and it says “received” or “in process”–but in fact, the piece had really been rejected. You’d think they’d update the database.

It’s a gorgeous pile, isn’t it?




Filed under Publishing, Writing

11 responses to “the collection….of rejection slips

  1. Oh. Some of those look familiar. Reminds me that I just got another one yesterday. *long, heavy sigh*

    I love the “Onward!” signed at the bottom of the Zyzzyva rejection. Yes! If only it were so easy!

  2. Yeah, I have an “Onward!” rejection too, only it’s somewhere on the floor of my car, with a few dozen shoemarks all over it.

  3. Did you sneak in my house and take my rejections, Missy?

    I don’t know about onward, a word that’s always made me think of Robert Scott’s expedition to the south pole, the one where “onward” was a terrible idea. Still, I do think more writing is the answer to rejection.

  4. nova: Isn’t it nice? I think editors forget those small but thoughtful gestures in rejections. I wish email would sometimes allow “handwriting” to make them more personal (the litmag at which I work responds via email).

    Susan: ha!

    bloglily: I guess every writer has a pile somewhere. 🙂

  5. LK

    I HATE Howard Junker’s “Onward!” (I’ve gotten that myself.) It’s so….dismissive.

  6. Jeez, and I thought my “Onward!” was special!

    Lovely pile, by the way.

  7. I still kind of like Howard Junker’s “Onward” and his letter (which uses an ENTIRE 8.5 x 11″ sheet of paper, apparently a rarity in lit rejections). I’ve also received an entire handwritten rejection letter from Howard. I have since gotten more rejections, include some near misses and nice, handwritten letters from editors. Coool.

  8. David

    It is comforting to have other writers sharing their stories of rejection. I just (within the past week) had a rejection slip from the Beloit Poetry Journal. In it the editor wrote that he liked one of the three poems I sent. He said it was more concise and successful of the three, and that he was “glad” to have read them. I thought that was very professional and really kind to offer that personal touch. When you think about the amount of manuscripts editors have to read through, and the small pay, and sometimes no pay at all, we should be writing to thank them for acknowledging the submission. Always remember that publishers are people. They make mistakes. There are classic stories about great poets and writers getting rejected by big houses. NPR has a podcast about this I think. If this doesn’t calm your shattered ego then remember every time you have read something in a magazine or in a book and thought, this isn’t so great. Well? See what I mean? A lot of it is opinion.

    • Dear David: How thoughtful you are! I just left my gig as a litmag editor, precisely because I was haunted by all the rejections I sent out; it felt like rrreally bad karma. I know there are many editors out there who try to add personal touches.

      Also–the reality is that editors do NOT have time to add personal touches to all rejection notes–so you should take heart that particular rejection, for it means it did pierce someone psyche! 🙂

  9. “We have no record of your submission but we didn’t accept it”…haha

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