January 21st, 2018

Dark and Stormy Night

The Dreaded Rejection Letter

Dear Author,
Thank you for submitting your work to us. Unfortunately, it doesn't meet our needs at the present time, but we wish you future success.

The Editor

Well, that's what they write. Any professional in the business will tell you editors, agents, and publishers don't reject writers: They reject pieces of paper with words written on them. However, that's not what writers hear:

Dear Loser,

We considered using your manuscript as a coaster, but it was stinking up the place so much we couldn't even be bothered to steam off the stamps. Hopefully we'll never hear from you again, but wish you success at a more appropriate profession, such as fish cleaner or stall mucker.

Go Away,

The Editors

And that's not fair, because in the publishing industry the gatekeepers are inundated with hundreds of--let's face it, sometimes desperate--writers every day. Sometimes a form rejection letter (more likely e-mail) is all they have time for; sometimes they don't have time even for that. There are lots of things to complain about with the publishing industry, but on an individual basis the people working there are pretty decent.

Still, writers get more rejections than a nerd at a sports bar, and I should know. (Just kidding--I never went to sports bars.) In fact, if you're doing it right you're going to get lots and lots of rejections. But sometimes, especially if you're having a down day overall, your umpteenth rejection will show up and just hit you harder than most. That's what happened to me, anyway.

When I first started out, back in the days of snail mail delivered by the Pony Express, I collected enough form rejection letters to paper my office walls ... which would have looked better than the wallpaper I actually had at the time. Later I'd get the occasional encouraging note at the end of one. Then I'd get brief, but personal, rejections. Then more detailed ones, and then, one day, an acceptance. A few times after that, I received some detailed letters describing why they were rejecting the manuscript, or even asking for some changes and a resubmission. Now it's decades since I started out: I have nine published books, and stories in three anthologies.

And I still get form rejection letters.

So yeah, it gets me down sometimes, especially this time of year when the days are short. But after all this time, I've developed a method of dealing with these bouts of sudden depression: I go to my laptop, open up a word document ...

And start working on another story.

It doesn't get me published ... well, not immediately. But it does remind me of why I'm doing this to begin with.

Sometimes the writing life just goes to the dogs.