Tag Archive: Rejection slips

Racking up the slips

Mile after mile: Rejection slips are just indicators of miles traveled.

James Lee Burke submitted his fourth book, The Lost Get-Back Boogie, 111 times. After more than a decade of rejection, the book was published and nominated for a Pulitzer. One publisher informed aspiring author Rudyard Kipling “I’m sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.” And let’s not forget “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” rejected for containing – gasp! – “unpleasant elements.”

Sometimes it seems like the writer’s main task is to withstand the slings and arrows of the wrathful editor. It can be useful to think of the rejection slip as a kind of toll payment slip. If I’m in a truck carrying 25 tons of lumber from Augusta down to Tallahassee, I’m going to collect a lot of toll slips. Should I lose heart? Far from it. Each newly acquired slip – though hardly cause for celebration – is a sign that I am on my way. True, there are no convenient road signs reassuring the writer “Publication: 60 miles.”

But bear in mind that a rejection is categorically the opinion of an individual. Like that squeamish fellow who rejected Oscar Wilde. In fact, your rejection may not be an “opinion” at all. The editor may be seeking a piece this month that is shorter than yours. Or longer. Or, if your piece is humorous, she may already have a humor piece for that month

So be proud! These dreaded banes are just indicators of miles traveled.

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil – but there is no way around them.

– Isaac Asimov