Do you keep track of your writers rejection slips? Way, way back when I first started submitting my short stories to literary magazines, I kept a big file full of all my writers rejection slips. Since I followed the advice of all the big writers’ advice magazines, I was sending out stories to ten different journals at time, so my collection of rejection slips grew pretty rapidly.
I had better luck with my non-fiction writing back then and landed a stringer position at a small neighborhood newsletter. I took a small break to learn how to manage being the mom of three kids, and then went back to writing full steam ahead. I quit my day job, started my own business and got down to work.
My collection of writers rejection slips is still growing, but now it’s online. For instance, you can see the list of writers rejection slips on my Submittable account to the left.
One of my writing mentors once said she doesn’t even keep track of rejections, she just moves on the next submission. I believe that’s good advice for people who get hung up and slowed down by rejections, but I need to keep track of where I’ve submitted and what stories I’ve submitted.
So in addition to Submittable I keep a small notebook on my desk and jot down queries, pitches and submissions by month. Then I go back and indicate when each submission was accepted or rejected.
Sure, l’m still receiving writers rejection slips. But my acceptances are also growing.
And I’m actually ok with keeping track of these rejections for at least one reason: they are real proof that I am living my promise to myself to be a professional writer. Many people write as a hobby, or journal to keep track of their lives. But I am a professional writer. I make my living on words. And every rejection is a little badge of the bravery and effort it took to think of an idea that might work, put in the time to research it and write it, send it off to the editor, and face their possible scorn and derision – or their surprise and delight!
I really believe it’s true that you are not going to get acceptances before getting a serious number of rejections. And I also have noticed that I’m learning a lot more from my rejections. In more instances, editors are taking the time to note specifically why they didn’t chose some of my works. That helps a lot.
In the spirit of looking for the silver lining around writers rejection slips, I recently submitted a short essay about one of my most painful rejections to Cairn Press. The editors there are putting together an anthology on rejections, and I loved that they acknowledged that they would have to reject some of the rejection stories. Like pouring salt in the wound.
Do you keep track of your rejections?
Have you learned anything from a rejection?