Rejection Letters, Redux

I feel like it's time for me to return to the subject of, well, rejection letters.

Let's talk.

With the completion of my second poetry manuscript, I'm now in what I like to call "submission mode" which inevitably means I'm also receiving heaps of rejection letters once again. Part of the process, I know, and I'm totally over it already.

On Wednesday night, I sent off a handful of submissions before bed. I'm using Duotrope again to research new markets, and found two that I wanted to try. I spent a little time reading their online content, figured, hey, looks like it might be a good fit. I sent off a submission of poems to each journal that I thought might fit with their aesthetic. The whole process took me about an hour to put together two packets and send them off. A typical evening.

Well, the next morning, I'm going about my routine. First coffee, then email. And in my inbox, there's a message from one of the two venues. I figured it must be one of those automated responses, maybe letting me know that they'd closed their submissions early, or something.

Nope. It was a rejection letter. A form rejection letter complete with "dear writer." Ugh. I had sent the submission like at 10pm, and at 8:32 I get a form response? Annoyed.

I posted about this on my facebook page, to commiserate with my fellow writers about the smelliness of it all. Some were outraged alongside me. Some said I should be happy to get a response. Some asked, well, what do you expect? :-/

Being a poetry editor myself, I understand, kind of. I mean, Amarillo Bay is awesome but I don't get boatloads of submissions, and I'm able to personally consider and respond to each submission I get. Even in my slush-sifter job at Fifth Wednesday (where we DO get a boatload of submissions and more), I try my damndest to spent time with each poem and leave some sort of comment to pass along to the author. I don't ALWAYS do that, but I'd say 60/40.

I'm probably just being a big baby about this (I know I'm being a big baby about this). We're in an age where tons of mags charge submission fees. We're in an age where there's too much bad poetry out there, some of it probably written by me. We're in an age where, like, no one wants to read poetry anymore. I should be honored that an editor looks at my work for a moment, makes a snap judgement, hits reject, and the process begins again.

Only, errr... I'm not. And that's my problem.

So I've decided to begin collecting rejection letters again. To celebrate the process. To celebrate trying. To celebrate learning. To celebrate the long and arduous journey from idea to creation to revision to polishing to submission and finally, one day, to publication.

In 2014, this rejection letter marked 23. And onward I go.

Feel free to chime in below with your thoughts on rejection letters, stories, coping strategies, or anything at all :-)


  1. Rejection letters are the worst, but I love going back to reading about all these amazing authors and poets who got rejected so many times, like sylvia plath, jk rowling and stephen king. It's really inspirational that you're collecting these letters and still staying strong, it's so easy to fall into the trap of despair, happens to me too! But keep pushing yourself and do what you love!


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