Saturday, February 22, 2014


Another rejection. The recognition that this may be a pivotal moment, the quickening of the pulse and the clutching of the stomach, the body's stupidly predictable sympathetic response for naught. The index finger tearing open the envelope more or less neatly as befitting the stature of the publication, the quick scanning of eyes down the page ferreting out key words like 'sorry' or 'regret.' And 'although.' Always that. Or the opening of an email at the most inopportune time because it feels impossible not to know an outcome. In that event at least there exists no physical reminder of defeat, no hastily torn envelope or shortest letter deemed 'polite enough.' A quick delete of the offending no-thank-you is all it takes. I prefer the poison email to the poison pen.

I wonder why I continue to subject myself to such regularly scheduled disappointment. Why should it matter whether my name is attached to some words that have made their way into the arena of public scrutiny? I did not even keep my birth name. It would be my husband's name in print, just as well, I suppose. I never took to my given name. I do not feel defined by my maiden or married name, and yet a name (whichever one) is all that would stand between my writing and a stranger's eyes. It's inscrutable, really.

Perhaps when enough well-meaning souls suggest that it's only a matter of months or circumstance before you will be known to many, you can't help but believe them. Even if it's only reflexive kindness that your loved ones are offering, like homemade dinners on injury or the birth of a baby. A salad and dessert too?

I want none of this to matter. I might hope to be JD Salinger, not publishing because he saw no need of it. Except we all know that JD Salinger didn't much want to be JD Salinger, and he wasn't publishing for an entirely different, much darker reason.

If only I could voice the words in my head and let the air catch them. On the wind's back they'd travel far and wide, landing where they might, doing what good they could. If they caused a bird to sing out for the first time, if a plant grew taller or lusher on the diet of my words, I would never even know, but for this: on some spring day I'd notice that the earth smelled a little sweeter, the sky appeared a little bluer, and the sun shone perceptibly brighter. 

But that is not enough, whether or not I've managed to convey the reason. So I blink back tears and carry on, my aspirations more and more a source of embarrassment and shame -- aspirations as uncontrollable in their way as that stupidly predictable nervous system of mine.


Christine said...

You are not alone in this. I don't even write, though, I get rejections for pieces I wrote years ago but keep submitting. I feel like a fake. I'm sorry, S. I wish we could sit together over coffee and simply be with each other and feel comfort in the presence of the other.

Vodka Mom said...


You are a talent....a true, wonderful, beautiful talent.....

Veronica said...

I felt this way when I was applying for jobs and not even given the dignity of a rejection letter--just silence. Ugh.

ozma said...

Don't give up! And don't give up trying to get published. I can't even tell you how much I admire you for that. DOING THIS IS SO GUTSY. YOU ROCK FOR DOING THAT.

Everyone gets massive numbers of rejections. Writing and trying to get published is about rejection, I think. Also, you may not have anyone in the know, you may not know what are the best journals for your work--so trial and error is probably going to be more likely even. But everyone gets heaps of rejection letters.

Nicole said...

One of my favourite lines ever is in A Diary of a Provincial Lady. She asks a writer where she would read his work. Writer replies haughtily that his work is not, and never can be, for publication. Lady thinks "this attitude could be with advantage adopted by many".

Keep on keeping on. You're a real talent. I really believe in you.

Mary Gilmour said...

Yes. Hurts. But you describe it with so much finesse and nuance that I am awed. And think that your work is valuable and should be known.
Only easy for me to say when it is your solar plexus that is taking the blows.

Kate G said...

It's a punch to the gut every time. And I will tell you that it is a sickened thrill for me when I do (sometimes...maybe 15% of the time) receive a yes.
Keep on keeping on. Please. Your work is wonderful. Much of this is based on the whim of ONE reader. You will find your place. (Do you use DuoTrope?)

Sarah said...

Nope; not sure what DuoTrope IS, Kate G.

alejna said...

I am sorry that you are so discouraged. Rejection is hard to take. But I also admire you for putting yourself out there. I can't say that I know that your work will find the right eyes to get the recognition it merits, but I am confident that it does merit recognition.

I know I've said it before, but you are one of my favorite writers. Your skill for conveying setting and mood and character with a beautiful sparseness of words regularly blows me away. Your stories stick with me long after I have read them, and yet I happily re-read them because I enjoy the beauty in the words you put together.

Kate G said... isn't free anymore, but I pay for it now because it's worth it. It provides listings of literary magazines big and small, and sorts them for you based on all kinds of criteria. User data also allows you to understand how difficult or easy it may be to place you writing at each particular publication. Plus, the site helps you track all of your submissions. I love it. There is a free trial period for you to poke around.