Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Play It Again, Sam

I seem to recall writing a rather lengthy post in my last update, a good deal of which being dedicated to my thoughts on rejections, and how to take them. It's funny, you see, because just a few hours later, here I am, writing another one.

This one won't be as lengthy, however. I promise.

In the wee hours of the morning, I watched my submission to Lightspeed Magazine climb the reading queue (they have one of those fancy submission tracking systems) until it reached the Number One spot. About a half an hour later, I received an email from Mr. John Joseph Adams.

It was a rejection.

But, I must say, it was the best one I've ever received. Here it is:

Dear Joseph,

Thanks for submitting this story, but I'm going to pass on it. It's nicely written and I enjoyed reading it, but overall it didn't quite win me over, I'm afraid. Best of luck to you placing this one elsewhere, and thanks again for sending it my way. I hope you'll try us again with something else.

Not too shabby, eh?

I have to admit, I was all smiles after this one. Given the nature of the blog post I had written mere hours before, how could I be anything else? After all, rejection is a necessary evil in this subjective industry, so the worst thing you can do is let these things get to you. As I've said before, I've let rejections get to me, and it cost me weeks (sometimes months) of my life where I felt too defeated to write anything. Those are weeks and months I can never get back, time that I could have spent honing my craft, submitting stories, fielding rejections.

When you think about it, it's a pretty sweet business, isn't it? Most of the people running short story markets are writers themselves, and they understand what it means to suffer rejection. A select few of them are too busy to personally respond, and so was born the dreaded From Rejection Letter. But there are two sides to every coin, and because the form rejection is so dreaded and so common, the Personal Rejection Letter has become more than the sum of its parts; now it's something of an uplifting event, if viewed through the right prism.

The beauty of it is that the people running these markets know that the personal rejection isn't so much a  polite courtesy, but an uplifting event for a writer who hasn't sold yet (or hasn't sold much) and so they take time out of their busy days to send these letters--these brief, two- or three-sentence apologies--and give us the next-best thing to a sale.

Thanks, Mr. Adams. Your letter made my day.

As for the story...well, this is the third rejection for "The Machine," which makes me sad, because I think it's a great story that's well written and a lot of fun to read. Oh well. As always, the story barely had time to take its coat off before I handed it directions to its next market. Should hear back in a few weeks on that one.

That's all for today (hopefully).


  1. Well, at least your getting something back. I currently have 20 subs out there and according to duotrope a number are over due for responses. I keep wondering if someone has nailed my mailbox shut, lol

    Keep trying, don't give up. Worst case scenario, five rejecions in a rowe and you can try for 'The Rejected Quarterly'.

  2. I'm sorry about that rejection, but I'm glad that it was a personal rejection and didn't get you down.