Why I Secretly Love Rejections

I first considered myself a ‘real writer’ when I received my first rejection letter (e-mail). I was thrilled. I printed it out and hung it up at my office at work, by my desk at home. Everywhere. All of my friends thought I was totally crazy for being that excited.

Lookie, I'm a 'real writer'!!

It was a very nice, personal rejection which helped. The editor liked my short story but just didn’t think it fit with the tone of the magazine. And I made him really crave a cigarette. Since then there have been a lot more rejections, none of them very personal or friendly at all. But I have never gotten very upset about these rejection notices, not because I always assume I’ll be rejected or that my work doesn’t deserve to be published. I very much believe in my own writing.

It’s hard to describe why exactly I get so excited about rejections. I find the sending out my work process a lot like a jigsaw puzzle. Trial and error on finding out what piece fits where. Where does my poem or short story fit?

Aw, don't give up weird little puzzle piece!

I spend hours on Duotrope looking up different magazines and places to submit. I try to look over previous issues, read the submission guidelines, and learn all I can.

I keep a running list of places that I feel fit my work. I also really like Duotrope because it makes it very easy to keep track of the submission process. It has a section where you can add what you submitted to which magazine on what date and even when you receive a response. It’s very helpful. If you are looking to start submitting shorter work (or even novels) then I really suggest you create a free account with Duotrope.

A rejection just means that my piece isn’t a fit for that puzzle, and onto the next place or onto revision. That isn’t to say that it does discouraging on occasion. I have one poem in particular that I adore and that I think is excellent that has been rejected by about 5 magazines or journals. That has been challenging but it also helps keep me grounded and keeps that pesky little ego in check.


I'm not sure why this showed up when I googled 'ego' but it works.

All in all I try to view each rejection as not a personal attack or anyone saying ‘Boo, you suck!’ but simply saying ‘Not quite right for us. Thanks.’ I got an e-mail just a few days ago that was interesting because it was a rejection for one poem and a consideration for another poem. I submitted two poems to a magazine and one was rejected almost immediately, the other one however is still under consideration.

It’s amazing how, as a writer, words like consideration suddenly become fountains of hope. Maybe I’m just an optimist, or naive or some other word (because people are all made up of different words), but I really believe in my own work whether it’s been rejected or accepted. I think to survive as a writer I have to. And honestly, even just one acceptance or even a consideration makes up for all the rejections in the world.

The feeling of an acceptance. Mmm… grass…


How do you handle rejections? Any tips or tricks you use?



  1. Every time I submit a piece, I find a backup market, so I can send it on as soon as it’s rejected. It keeps me in the game.

    • Judy Black Said:

      That’s a great plan! I try to do the same thing especially since simultaneous submissions make me a little nervous (that and it seems like more and more places are frowning on that) Thanks for the comment!

  2. KarenG Said:

    I love this post! More writers should have this attitude, and that your piece made the editor crave a cigarette LOL that’s priceless!!

    I don’t really know how to follow wordpress blogs (I’m so partial to blogspot it’s ridiculous) but I’ll put the link on my sidebar! Look forward to more from you here!

    • Judy Black Said:

      Aw, thanks for linking me on your sidebar! I’m still figuring out wordpress, I just switched over to it from blogspot actually so I understand!
      Making the editor want a cigarette made my day! He said he’d decided to quit that very day and that my story had just made him want a cigarette so bad! 🙂

  3. I tend to develop a long list of places that I can send a story to before starting the submission process. That way, I can submit it again after it gets rejected. I tend to re-submit the same day a story gets rejected, it helps to soothe the pain of rejection. Though, after 75 rejections (spread out over 20 projects) the pain of rejection is easier to deal with.

    Thanks again, Judy, For your comments about “Five Copper Bowls”.

    • Judy Black Said:

      eeee! Your work is awesome so I’m happy to gush about it! I like the idea of re-submitting the day that something is rejected is wonderful, keep it moving and it will eventually find a home! Yeah I bet after 75 rejections it does get easier! I’m flirting with around 20 rejections thus far, but I’ve only seriously started submitting work since July of this year.


  4. Amie Kaufman Said:

    I think you’re exactly right, every rejection is one step closer to finding the right place for a piece. (I only hope I’m so philosophical when I start querying my novel!)

    • Judy Black Said:

      I bet that novel rejections might sting a little more since novels generally have taken a lot more time and energy. But, I believe the same thing holds true for a novel, that a rejection doesn’t have to mean ‘Boo, you suck!’ so much as, ‘This doesn’t quite work for us.’

      All the best when you start querying your novel!! I will be sending you well wishes and positive thoughts!

  5. […] form letter that crushes souls and dreams of writers everywhere. I’ve written before about why I actually don’t mind rejection letters, but that doesn’t mean they don’t also […]

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