2016 started with a rejection letter in my email. Yup. January 1. Should I take up a new profession?While looking for some notes on one of my stories, I found this clipping tucked into a folder. On January 1, 2016. I think I was meant to find it.
You see the rejection letter I received didn’t even tell me my poems weren’t chosen, it merely announced the winner, commended poems and named finalists. Impersonal was the only way to describe it. No mention of my work at all. This had never happened to me before, and I decided to go back and look at other rejection letters I have received over the years. Two stood out.
Thank you for allowing [Publication] to consider your poetry submission. We have read your work carefully, but must decline to publish. We regret that the volume of submissions we receive and the small size of our staff prevent us from giving a more personal response, but we hope that you will submit to us again.
Thank you for submitting your work to [contest]. Though your work was not selected as a winning entry, we appreciated the opportunity to consider it for publication. […] We know how much effort went into your submission, and we regret the use of this form. The volume of manuscripts we receive makes a personal reply impossible.
Again, thank you for your interest in [publication]. Please try us again in the future.
Both of those letters were from 2013. I stopped printing and saving rejections after that. It’s discouraging to receive a rejection. For it to arrive in a generic form that goes to every submitter is downright disheartening. Do they really want you to submit again in the future or are they just trying to soften the blow?
After I stumbled on this clipping, I began to think about the mounting rejection letters in my inbox and remembered that in the fall of 2015 an editor took the time to tell me my poems were good and which was the strongest. That encouraged me. So, maybe Gobbell is right. We should save our rejections and see how they change over time.
Maybe there are levels of rejection letters. Which one you receive correlates to the quality of your work, getting more personal as the quality rises.
I’ll begin saving all my rejections again with the goal that they become more personal and eventually turn into acceptances. For the record, I plan to submit more this year, both short stories and poetry. I’ll keep you updated on that as time goes by.
What about you? Do you save your rejection letters? What are some of your writing goals for 2016?