The Art of Artless Rejection (notices)

I received a rejection today. No big deal. I get lots of them. Occasionally I get an acceptance–then I skip upstairs to post a shout on facebook and get back to sending out more poems.      Aside alert–I’m still, after 20-some years of going through this ritual, not sure why I send poems out every month in the hope that someone will select to print one, mostly without paying me, sometimes even forgetting to send me copies, and probably with little assurance that anyone will read it. Of course a part of it is vanity and affirmation. I want to believe that all my efforts poking at individual words results in something that is of a publishable quality. I want to believe that someone appreciates the work and that I’m contributing to the greater collective. I also want someone else to take the burden of designing and printing. Heck, if I just wanted readers I’d post all my poems on facebook or post my own poems here. I’d get even more readers if I just scribbled them on the sidewalk.  End aside. Anyway, years ago I would save all my rejection slips. When I first started, in college, I taped them on my bedroom wall until I’d filled most of a wall. Some of the rejections were humorous, some included nice personal notes, but most were just unsigned form letters. I understand the problem of volume that editors go through. I’ve worked on three litmags myself so I have experience wading through piles of mostly unwanted submissions. Still, it gets daunting being on the receiving end.

Anymore, I don’t save my rejections. I don’t even save the acceptances as they’re often just as unoriginal. Now I just mark the status in a database on my laptop and move on. Boring.

All that leads me to this, a blog I found tonight dedicated to literary rejections. Literary Rejections on Display is a home for your most carefully worded or sloppily contrived notes of sincere no thank you. Any good rejection stories you’d like to share? Good fun for all.

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6 thoughts on “The Art of Artless Rejection (notices)

  1. My personal favourite rejection letter was a half sheet of ripped paper, with my surname and the word “No” scrawled on it.

    • the really little indy zines can have the best rejections. it’s the stuffier, mostly university-based journals that stick with the boring form letter, or half letter.

  2. I’ve gotten ones that are a quarter page and less. I think they are trending toward fortune cookie size. Perhaps with lottery numbers on the back in case you’re feeling lucky.

  3. When I started at my first magazine job, they had an all-purpose rejection slip with boxes to check for “does not meet our present needs” and so on. I suggested we add one more, a really insulting one, to leave writers relieved that at least we hadn’t checked THAT reason. (Editors who did check it, I felt, should be fired.)

  4. I once received a note from Slipstream that read “We’re all stocked up on deathbed poems.” Whatever happened to “no thanks”!

    P.S. Thanks for taking a look at Frostwriting and my poem that lives there!

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