Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Picking up on what Hannah wrote…

Rejection stinks. No one likes rejecting folks any more than folks like being rejected. Well, maybe some folks. Not us.

I have to say, though, that in the past couple years, my attitude about receiving rejections for my own work has changed. Quite a bit.

In the beginning, when I first started sending my work out, I received the inevitable rejections. I was crushed, of course. And after moping around the house for a few hours, occasionally looking at the rejection but really being unable to bear it, I’d file the rejection away for that other legendary inevitability: the tax man. (You’ve heard this, right? That we’re all supposed to save those rejection letters for when we’re audited? Don’t know if that’s true. I’ve also heard of people’s various rituals for disposing of rejections, too. These rituals sound very much like what folks do after a bad breakup, or any breakup, really: tending to involve booze, or fire, or both. Maybe black markered-mustaches, too.) Recently, however, the rejection’s arrival thrills me. It doesn’t thrill me more than if the work had been accepted, of course, but to finally hear! To finally know!

And it helps to know that the selection process is not perfect, is not the only say; that one poem rejected at Journal X may be happily published by Journal Y. (Is there a Journal X? If so, I don’t mean you, Real Journal X!) There’s plenty of evidence in support of that fact in this article on Knopf’s dark secrets, if you don’t believe me.

If you still need some of that ritual healing, though, here’s an idea: write rejection slip poems or (super) short shorts—that is, poems or short fiction to fill up the back of your rejection slip. (Denise Duhamel has a poem in 29.1 that inspired this idea: $600,000. It was, if I recall correctly, written to fit onto a bill of play moolah.)

Nothing better than turning a pile of rejections into a pile of new work, I say.


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