Softening the sting of artistic rejection

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This young man once sang, “rejection is one thing, but rejection from a fool is cruel.” Quite apt in the romance department, but literary journal editors are not fools 🙂

Rejection sucks.

But the more you submit, and the more you’re rejected, it DOES become easier to shake off those decisions.

Many editors are aware of their roles as the bearers of bad news. I always like to see language on literary journal websites that speak to this. For example, I was poking around today on the Hippocampus site. Here’s what the editors have to say:

Just because we pass on a particular submission does not mean it does not have merit; we publish 8-12 pieces per issue, and this often means turning away strong work. Sometimes it’s as simple as an essay with similar theme or style was recently published. Do not take editorial decisions personally. Just sitting down and getting your thoughts on paper is a task for which you should feel great pride—not everyone can do it. Every piece of writing has value. We feel it is important to spread the message of being persistent and diligent in your search for publication. Never let rejection discourage you from sharing your story. Just because it is not right for us or right for us at this time does not mean it will not find a more fitting or timely home. Write on.

Good advice! I always like to say if you’re submitting, that means you have stuff ready. That means you’ve done the work, spent hours or weeks or months or years on something. Be proud of that!

Submit widely, and something is bound to stick. Look at batting averages: .250 is decent, .300 puts you into a more elite category. That’s hitting the ball one out of four times, or one out of three times. That’s MISSING the ball three of four times, or two of three times. As writers we can only DREAM of such odds! I’m more of a 5-for-100 believer. Submit to 100 places, and I’ll bet that you’d land at least five. And guess what? That’s five publications! That’s huge! Last year I had zero publications (on 11 submissions). I’d be happy in 2020 with at least one publication, much less five!

This year I’ve already submitted twice, and I hope by the end of the month to have a couple of more submissions out there.