Tuesday, November 18, 2014


post by Lynn

Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons
Dear Rejection,

Ouch. That hurt. But I assure you I don’t take it personally. Well, maybe a little. I figure you have your reasons.

What are your reasons, may I ask? I take it more personally when you are mute. Say something-- anything--because the muteness tells me (or at least I think it does) that I’m not even worthy of the effort of a nice letdown. Come on, I deserve that at least.

Let me spell it out for you. Just say something along the lines of “not a fit for our current edition” or “we’ve had a lot of submissions similar to this lately, so unfortunately…” or even (oh, I wish) something specific to my piece like “the ending happens a little too quickly, need to flesh out the character arc a bit more.” That’s not asking too much, is it?

Still and all, it’s a far more frightening thing when I don’t even risk you. When I shrug my shoulders and say, "If I don’t play, I can’t lose."

That’s bad--awful, in fact. I know that if I’m serious about writing, I’ve got to get on the field. Jump in the scrum and fight for the ball, even knowing I'll get banged up.

Okay. I have to go now. There's some, well, LOTS of work to do. We’ll meet again soon. But I think I’m going to take our frequent encounters as proof that I’m in the game, and getting better every day.


Lynn G. Carlson


  1. Linda M. HasselstromNovember 18, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    Good attitude, Lynn. And shame on that Rejector for not giving you a hint. Hints are educational and make rejection useful instead of merely--rejection.

    1. Yeah, we can shame them, but I also understand (intellectually) that these are some pretty busy folks, buried under a lot of submissions. Probably wishing they had more time for their own writing. Makes the Rejectors who take a moment to comment all the more impressive--ought to be a medal for those!

  2. It is better to have a scrummed and lost than to have never scrummed at all.

  3. Good post, Lynn. We all need to be reminded that we all get rejected and often. My dogs even reject me sometimes, when I've not been speedy enough with their food or letting them back in from the back yard. ;-)))

    I am often shocked when I look through my Excel file that lists every poem I've sent out and to whom to discover that I expected some word six months earlier and have heard exactly nothing. Or I get an email saying that so and so won a prize in a contest I entered and to others finished second and third and there are seven honorable mentions. Nothing about my submissions. But, over the past six or seven years of sending our many, many poems for consideration, I've gotten used to sending my babies out to wallow in a black hole somewhere.

    The fun of writing is in the writing, not the publishing. In poetry there's almost never money and any money from contests doesn't begin to cover the expenses or paper, postage, envelopes, etc., so there never was an expectation of riches. I just wonder sometimes how my babies are doing. ;-)))


    1. I know that feeling of finding out after the fact that your piece was obviously not selected. I think my background as a professional makes me a little judgmental on this: if you solicit something from people, you owe them a response, period. It's not only the right thing to do, it's good for business & relationships (pissed off submitters aren't as inclined to read your magazine, naturally). Sometimes I think literary magazines forget this.

      But you are very correct--the fun (and creative flow, and joy, and insight) is in the writing. If that part didn't outweigh everything else for me, I'd take up quilting.

      Please tell your dogs, for me, that they better straighten up and fly right--good masters are hard to come by!

  4. I read somewhere that rejection is experienced in the same place in the brain as physical pain. It certainly feels just as bad to me! I know it's part of a writer's life, and can be really useful, but I wish we could do without it. My letter to rejection would not have been quite so kind!

    1. Chere:

      This letter was edited. Extensively. Because Susan and I promised each other we would keep our blog posts somewhere in the vicinity of a PG 13 rating :-)


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