Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rejection is for the Bird

I’ve been submitting short stories for a few months now (thanks, W1S1), which means I’ve been receiving rejections for a few months now. (If there are writers out there with 100% acceptance rates on their early attempts, please don’t say so in the comments. I wouldn’t want to have to dig out my torch and pitchfork or interrogate you about why you never saved that tortoise in the desert.) (Just kidding.) (Kind of.)

I’ve found a number of positive ways to deal with the rejections, however. I remind myself that I’m still very new at this game and I’m up against a lot of excellent competition. I try to have at least two stories out in submission land at any given time (emphasis on try), so that when one gets rejected I can still pin my hopes on the others. And I embrace the rejections as motivation, keeping the slips* as reminders that I’m putting myself out there, that each “Not for us” is a step towards acceptance. 

And I took it a step further, drawing on something from the memoir section of Stephen King’s On Writing

“When I got the rejection slip from AHMM, I pounded a nail into the wall above the Webcor, wrote “Happy Stamps” on the rejection slip, and poked it into the nail… I felt pretty good, actually. When you’re still too young to shave, optimism is a perfectly legitimate response to failure.
By the time I was fourteen (and shaving twice a week whether I needed to or not) the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing…”

I loved the idea of a rejection spike and decided to get a version of my own. My first thought was something epic like a narwhal sculpture with a long horn, but I eventually went with something smaller and cheaper that would still look nice in my office (and even fit with the blog's tree theme): 

At least part of me looks forward to the day when the hook is completely filled and I have to upgrade. Hopefully by that point there will be a number of acceptances in the mix, but if not I plan to get a larger “spike” and keep on writing. 

Does anyone else have a spike? How do you deal with rejections?

*Okay, technically I haven’t received rejection slips. I’ve gotten rejection emails and then printed them out. Same difference.


  1. I've been doing this writing thing a very long time and I'd like to say I've gotten used to it, but, well, I'd be lying. :)

    I already got two rejections so far this year (Happy 2012!) but I studied them to see if there's anything in them I can use, see if there's a pattern (like the story's been rejected a few times,) that kind of thing.

    I think you need a second spike for all your future acceptances, too. :)

    1. I definitely try to learn from my rejections too - if only most of them weren't form letters :-/. I like the idea of buying an acceptance spike with my first paycheck though. Thanks for the comment and camaraderie.

  2. I don't have a spike, but I love the idea! Actually, I love the bird idea more. :D

    1. Thanks! The bird definitely feels friendlier, and "hope is the thing with feathers," after all.

  3. My rejections are in a folder in my email program, separated further by story.

  4. Got an award for you ^_^ :

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