As spring blossoms, little emails will start cropping up in my inbox. Yes, if you’ve submitted to literary journals over the course of the year, it’s come down to this: a rejection slip. Most literary magazines have a submission window between September-March; some windows may be just in the fall or just in the spring. But by April or May, the vast majority have sent out both their acceptance and rejection notices.
It used to be real envelopes in my mailbox, but in this Internet age, so many things are electronic that I don’t get that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach each time I walk out to check the mail. Now, it occurs when I open my email. Of course, there could be an acceptance letter waiting, but I don’t think I’ve ever received an acceptance after March.
Rejection is tough in anything: job applications, sports tryouts, romance. In the quest for publication, it’s difficult to receive ten to fifteen rejection emails in the course of two-three weeks. I try not to get discouraged, and to help me adjust to this time of year, I’ve appropriately named it “Rejection Season.” Have five rejection emails lingering in your inbox? Chalk it up to “Rejection Season.”
I remind myself that at least I submitted somewhere, and at least I’m still writing, and at least I haven’t given up. This does not take the sting out of each short email saying “Thank you, but. . . “ or “We’re so glad you submitted to us, but. . .” “We really enjoyed your work, but. . .” In some ways I almost prefer the form letters to the hand-written notes that say, “You were so close.” Or “We all loved it, except. .” or “We really want to see more work.” Everyone says I should be encouraged by hand-written notes, or in the electronic world, a non-form rejection letter. I realize I should be encouraged, but I also realize I should eat more vegetables, and I should avoid eating a whole bag of Oreos, and I should start exercising more.
That being said, you go out there and have a nice spring. Enjoy the sunshine and the longer days. By the end of May, all this silly rejection will be over, and I can get to work during the summer revising, editing, and planning for the submission windows that will open in the fall, without being distracted by those pesky emails waiting for me. They say women decide to have more children because the pain of childbirth fades. Maybe I’m that way about submitting my work; by August, I’ve forgotten about the disappointment during “Rejection Season.”
What rejection have you faced? Did you keep going or give up?