Rejection Week

It’s not that I keep a tally of my rejections—okay maybe I do. They’re in a spreadsheet where I list all the pieces I’ve sent out, when, and whether they were accepted or not. But the point is more to track what I’ve sent where and what I’m still waiting to hear back on than to catalog my failures. In any case, I added three “Declined” labels to the spreadsheet this week.

The first rejection came on Tuesday from a literary journal called Maudlin House, which is on my list of places to get published because it has a gorgeous website. This was the 5th rejection I’ve gotten from them, but one day I hope to suit Mallory Smart’s fancy with just the right piece. I have lots of respect for her for sending out next-day rejections, though—that’s unheard of.

The second rejection ambushed me on Wednesday night. I applied to the Pitch Wars mentorship program earlier this month after finding out about it a week and a half before the deadline. Nearly 70 YA mentors were volunteering to read novel manuscripts and help authors get their submissions into shape before sharing with agents, and each mentor had a wish list of stories they were interested in. Applying to be a mentee was an exercise in reading through blogs and tweets to research which 4-6 mentors would be most excited about a story like mine. This research took hours, but the possibility of an intense 2-month full-novel free mentorship opportunity felt worth it.

On Wednesday night, I went online to see what time the Pitch Wars mentee results would be posted the next day and found out that they released them a day early. There’s a lot that happens on twitter for Pitch Wars so I probably missed that they changed the day, but it felt terrible being both unaware and unselected. Moreover it came as the first rejection for my novel which I have worked on to a different order of magnitude than any of my short stories that have suffered rejection. But honestly it felt good to get that out of the way. I let myself feel truly disappointed even though I knew my chances of getting a mentorship were slim due to the sheer number of applicants. It’s okay to feel disappointed by rejections as long as I don’t let that feeling stop me from submitting again elsewhere.

I might still get some feedback about my submission to Pitch Wars, and one mentor did request my full manuscript, so at least there’s that. I decided beforehand that if I got a request, I was going to feel good about the way the experience turned out, so I do.

The last rejection (or should I say third—I just sent out more pieces yesterday and the week isn’t over yet!) was from the second mentorship program I applied to which would have involved traveling to Rutgers in October. I applied to the Rutger’s University Council on Children’s Literature One-on-One Plus Unexcitingly Named Conference months ago and only knew that they would get back to me in “late August”. The good news is that I had to include a SASE with my application in which to get the response, so I selected for myself a richly textured envelope and used my fancy address labeler stamp on it, so at least it was a classy rejection.

I don’t think I would ever feel like I deserved success unless I worked for it, so I’m glad to submit to plenty of programs and journals to that end. Each collection of my words that gets published feels like a triumph for not just those words, but also all the others that were written and rewritten but remain buried in my drafts folder.