Thursday, January 17, 2008

Accept Rejection and Reject Acceptance

"You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance."
- Ray Bradbury

There it is, the Bradbury quote from above printed on a strip of green paper and affixed to my bulletin board. It lives there resting on top of my series of rejection letters from a handful of literary magazines and one from a children's book publisher.

I started pinning them up there in December 2006 as physical proof that I was doing something. They were evidence that I was trying and trying again to make it. And a part of me loves them for that. Actually, all of me loves them for that. I must be the most wacky writer out there: I love all my rejection letters. Okay the poetry contest I made an honorable mention in made me dance but when the little certificate came in the mail I showed it to my mother and then stuck it in a pile. My mother wanted to frame it but I refused as it was a cheap certificate that someone had obviously run through an inkjet and shoved into an envelope. The acceptance didn't inspire me, didn't make me feel any more like a writer than the rejection letters had. Then again, if it had come with publication not just a certificate then maybe I would have felt differently.

However it has been months since I've received a rejection letter from a literary magazine: because I've stopped submitting. Oops. This must change. Take a look at that bulletin board again:

There's lots of room there for more pre-printed notes. And it is my intent and desire to fill the board with more notes. More proof that I am working toward my future in print.

Don't get me wrong, I love my blog, but my blog needs friends. Friends that come in hand held editions.

What you don't see in that picture are all my electronic rejection letters. I don't print emails just to tack them up there just to make me feel better as I feel it is unfair to the trees. Those electronic rejections would probably double the number of letters in the picture and there would be one from as recently as early December 2007 for poetry and a couple fiction from summer 2007. But they weren't heartfelt submissions sadly.

What you do see in that picture in the lower center area is a pre-printed note with about three handwritten sentences to me from the editor. This is my most cherished note. Handwritten comments are rare. However that note is from my poetry days and I've realized I don't really have what it takes to stick in poetry. It was a phase. My strength has always lied in fiction but I think I was simply tempted by the glitz and speed of the shorter form.

So here it is, a toast to new fiction and new literary rejection letters in the new year! They are the pebbles tossed in the river: they seem small and insignificant but if I gather enough of them I may some day walk across them to the far bank.

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