If there is one thing that is truly unique in the world of writing, it’s what happens when you get a rejection letter. The rejection letter itself, that simple piece of paper with a couple paragraphs (or email, as the case may be with most rejections coming in an email form letter) is actually something quite spectacular. It’s a sense of belonging. A sense of accomplishment. Why rejection is a compliment is funny to nonwriters, but to us, it’s like a trophy.
For me, my rejection letter came 3 months and 11 days after I submitted my poetry manuscript to Milkweed Editions. It arrived on a Friday morning, 6 days after I had ‘quit’ my job and I was still reeling from that feeling. I took my news of my rejection to my writing group, and to the chorus of “Congratulations” my writing friends reminded me that a rejection is a good thing.
Yes, it’s truly strange to be congratulated on ‘failing’, so to speak, but what nonwriters don’t understand is that it is a badge of honor to have that letter. It means someone has read your work. It means you were brave enough to send something out. It means you are trying.
This is my second….. nope wait I forgot the short story……… this is my 5th rejection letter. But for an actual manuscript. My poetry manuscript wasn’t quite what Milkweed Editions was looking for, but that’s okay. It’s my first real manuscript. My first rejection letter came from a query letter. This is an actual manuscript!
But it doesn’t mean I’m lost. In fact, just yesterday, but an amazing twist of fate, someone on Twitter, contacted me and asked me to submit some of my work to their journal. Oh. My. Gosh. Someone actually wanted me to send them my work. Now that is an honor. I mean, sure, I have my lovely ladies reading my work, but sometimes you wonder how biased it is. No offense Dona, Mel, Sera, Maddie(Piper) et al. but I do think you are biased. I mean, you know me. But to have an unknown editor want you to submit. Whew! Mr. Streeby, I am truly honored. (and my ego has been supremely boosted)
Ah yes, rejections will keep coming in, but it’s a good thing. I have my very first rejection letter somewhere in one of my writing files. It’s an actual print letter. And one day I will frame it a la Richard Castle in the episode The Old Haunt……. I think that’s right. It’s an honor, and now I can edit the said manuscript and fix it for another publishing house because inevitably, I have found serious flaws and grammatical mistakes the minute I sent the darn thing off. Ah, perpetual editing comes when you can edit your own work. Mels, said it best the other day, but I forgot how she phrased it. It was good.
And I have new things to add. Infatuations with an Eskimo, working in a kitchen, which I have ‘quit’, but am more on a temporary leave of absence due to stress causing major health problems to creep back in. So I do have ideas for writing about kitchen life. Sorry Chef dear, but I can’t not write about a crazy kitchen!
So, if you have had a rejection letter, first of, “Good for you!” I’m proud of you, whoever you are. It’s an honor because someone read your work. Keep up the good work. We are all rooting for you in our own way. It’s nice to have friends and family root for me.