Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Joy of Rejection

"By the time I was fourteen ... the nail on my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing." ~ Stephen King, On Writing

I received another rejection letter the other day.

I have a self-imposed submission schedule that requires me to put at least one story out there into the big, bad world each month. Last month, I entered three short story contests and completed one conference application that require a writing sample. This month, I've already entered three contests and I have plans for at least one more.

I make each submission assuming it will result in a politely worded "thanks, but no thanks." As a new writer, I think I'm at an advantage when it comes to handling rejection. Although my loved ones assure me that I have talent, I've never gotten that kind of feedback from someone who wouldn't have to make eye contact with me across the Thanksgiving table or didn't have to worry about me unfriending them on FaceBook. I'm confident enough in my own writing to be willing to share it with others, but not so confident that I expect any of those others to pay me for the privilege of sharing it with more people.

When I receive a rejection letter, it becomes a badge of honor. "You took a risk!" it says. "You did something hard and scary and even though the worst possible thing happened, it didn't kill you!" The letter goes in my binder so I can pull it out to remind myself of these things the next time I'm hyperventilating over the terror of hitting "Submit".

I've survived enough rejection letters that my heart barely skitters at all when I see the name of a magazine or writing contest in my email or mailbox. (That's a lie ... my heart skips all over the place. But I don't get that vision-blackening rush of blood to my head anymore.) A rejection is a rejection is a rejection, right?


This time, while still rejecting my submission politely, the letter also included the following:

"We want you to know that we considered your entry to be in the top 15% of entries for this particular contest. We don't rank stories past the top ten, so we can't tell you exactly where your story would have placed, but your story was definitely one of the more successful entries. "

Cue the whooshing of blood rushing to my head. It still makes me feel a little dizzy just to re-read it. They want me to know that they liked my story! An actual professional with no emotional tie to me said something encouraging to me!

This is my favorite rejection letter so far. I can't wait for the next one to show up.


  1. Hi, Ms. Solange,
    I think you're very brave to be able to face rejection so boldly, and not give up on your quest to have your writing appreciated by people who do not know and love you. I admire your attitude very much. My own adventure that way: it took me six years and over 300 rejections before my first novel was accepted and published. Can you imagine how I felt the day the phone rang and an editor was on the other end? I was beyond ecstatic. About a year later, a short three page essay (memoir) I had written years ago and almost forgotten, won first prize of 750 dollars in the annual Pacific Northwest Writers Association writing contest. It had been rejected by AARP magazine a few months earlier. So, I urge you to keep up your never give up attitude, keep writing, keep submitting, keep reading and success will be yours. Take care, and I wish you the very best of luck. John

    1. John,
      Thank you so much for your kind, encouraging words! I actually wrote this in early April. Since then, I've won a contest at the DFW Writers Conference (read about it here: https://solorien.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/my-writeclub2016-journal-part-1/), been given honorable mention for one of my stories at the Northeast Texas Writers Organization conference, and had a flash fiction piece chosen for 1st place in the WOW!-Women on Writing Winter 2016 contest.
      I like to think that keeping a positive attitude and trying to learn from rejection instead of being beaten down by it had something to do with my rush of good luck this spring. Now the trick is to keep doing all the things you mentioned because success is fleeting and the real reward is in the journey!
      Congratulations on your successes! May you have many more!