rejection letter

I want to write something fantastic today, but honestly, I’m sitting here staring into the yawning mouth of my ancient printer, wondering about the meaning of life. In other words: I just got a rejection letter.

I get rejection letters all the time. I’m a writer. This one hurt in particular because the editor had written to me first, rather than the other way around. She requested a specific piece. She named an amount of money that was larger than any amount of money I’ve ever been offered for anything I’ve written. And she suggested that the process to publication would be smooth.

Nothing had been signed. Nothing was formally formalized, but she sounded so certain that I felt so certain that I did the thing I shouldn’t have done: I told my parents.

Look how well I’m doing! This big deal magazine came to ME!

We were in the kitchen, at their house. They were so excited for me. They said a lot of things about how things are finally coming together for me. How my hard work is paying off.

Two years of full time writing, taking little tiny steps, getting little tiny sips of success. The inevitable plummet into the panic attack on the couch. The sense that I am always slipping behind. The thrill of seeing my work on a big site. The desperate determination. The fierce pride. The itching sensation my Master’s degree causes, in that spot in my head where I sometimes think about it. It whispers, “For this you went to an Ivy League school?” It is not sensitive about my artistry. It is not even that nice, from what I can remember. I remember thinking, “This is what an Ivy League degree looks like? Could they at least have used a pretty font? Maybe some gold embossing?” I remember realizing that I was still exactly the same. That I couldn’t stand on this degree and become a different, taller, more impressive person. I still wanted the same things.

Two years. Longer than my grad school program. Writers think it’s funny when they’re writing ridiculous lists of writerly advice, to begin with, “Don’t become a writer.” How can you not become a writer, given the chance, if all you have ever wanted to do is write stories? But then, once you are doing this, how do you do it gracefully? How do you do it in a way that you can take home to your parents, when your parents didn’t know what a blog was two years ago? When the people you meet at parties say, “My cousin writes for the New York Times Magazine. Have you been in there?” When everyone in the world says, “Do you have a book out yet?” Do I have a book out? Can I please just get published in a print magazine? Just once? Just so I could say it happened? So I can run my fingers over the glossy page, where my words, heavily edited to the point of being unrecognizable, I’m sure, stare up at me, new born.

The piece didn’t have universal appeal, the editor told me. That was why it didn’t work, in the end.

I looked blankly at the screen for a long time, trying to decide what that meant. I sound like I’m weird? I mention eating pizza too frequently, and women aren’t supposed to love pizza that much? Too funny? Not funny enough? Code for “terrible and unreadable”?

I want my parents to think I am doing something with my life. I want my in-laws to think I am doing something with my life. I want my friends to think I am doing something with my life. And I even care about the random people I meet at parties and in the elevator. I want to be a person who is obviously doing something with her life. Something legitimate.

This writing thing, it never has any guarantees. And I don’t mean that in this “well, of course it doesn’t, life doesn’t come with a receipt,” kind of way. I mean it in a gut-wrenching, black hole, you-will-occasionally-feel-so-worthless-that-you-will-want-to-hide-under-something-in-the-closet-for-the-next-year way. And then you will have to remind yourself that you chose this. And that actually, you have it really good. And that you are being whiny right now. That you need to have a thicker skin.

That will be your mantra. Get a thicker skin. Keep going.

That is my mantra. Other than “eat the damn cake,” I mean. Which is of course my mantra (and a much better, happier, more interesting one).

I made the mistake of fantasizing about how that little story would look. I imagined people buying the magazine, opening it, reading the story. I imagined slipping the title of the magazine into my collection of names that give me stability. The names that hold my name up and make it feel like it means something. The names I can take home to my parents.

I wish I hadn’t told them. 

OK, back to staring into the dusty mouth of the ancient printer. Eventually, I may have an epiphany here. Maybe I’ll develop a new definition of “making it.” That might be nice. I think mine is kind of harsh.

Or maybe I’ll get up and eat something.

* *  *

How do you handle rejection? Any tips? Any good stories?

Unroast: Today I love the way I look in those three-quarter length yoga pants. Which I think means I’ve come a long way.

P.S. Speaking of writing and art and striving to succeed and failure and the desperate desire to DO something awesome, blogger Lynn Chen’s posts about getting rejected and then singing at the top of her lungs on the way home from the studio made me feel better today. And she’s currently trying to help raise money for a project called The Man’s Guide to Love. Which looks very cool. Her husband was involved in starting it, and both of them will be featured in the movie they’re trying to get made. This is their dream. Maybe we can help them out by donating or spreading the word. Click here!

56 Comments »

Kate on March 22nd 2012 in being sad, fear, writing

56 Responses to “rejection letter”

  1. Ashley responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    My philosophy is, in the words of Aerosmith, “You’ve got to lose to know how to win.”

    Besides, you are an excellent writer! I am always so envious of your skills as I read each post. You’ll get there.

  2. Kate responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 12:22 pm #

    @Ashley
    Nice.

    I’m not actually sure where “there” is. Sometimes I think maybe I’m already there in some ways. Sometimes I feel like I’m about a thousand miles away. It’s confusing!

  3. Meghan responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 12:22 pm #

    Rest assured you ARE doing something with your life, and it’s brave and fabulous. I started my own Marketing business and have been promised work, with start dates, pay rates, etc., cleared my calendar, only to never hear from the person again. This has happened a good half dozen times in the 1.5 years since I started. There’s a ton of disappointment, middle-of-the-night panics and meltdowns, dwindling bank accounts but also constant hope that the big client or opportunity will come along.
    I don’t really have any advice but to keep on going every day and know that there are likely many people who wish they had the courage to do what you have done.

  4. Kerry responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    Kate, do you have any idea how much I live for posts like this one?

    I have been living in rejection hell since last August, which was the last time I had any writing accepted. I had a short story published, I told everyone about it because I was excited and proud and it was my first, and then…crickets. Nothing.

    Nothing but a bunch of family and friends who now know to ask me, occasionally,” hey, how’s that writing thing going?” and who then slowly back away, frightened, when I bare my teeth and them and/or burst into tears.

    The rejection letters make me want to take down my writing website. They make me wish I never told anyone what I did in my spare time. They make it utterly impossible for the word “write” to come out of my mouth when people ask me what I do.

    But. They don’t make me want to stop writing. And that’s the only part that really matters.

    Posts like this remind me how wrong editors can be sometimes. How its not the writing, but the venue that makes for a poor fit. You are an amazing writer. I find your words VERY appealing, even when the topic doesn’t speak to me. That just wasn’t the right home for your words. Maybe a different publication is the right place, or here, or just in your head.

    Thanks for this post.

  5. Melanie responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 12:30 pm #

    Blargh! I actually feel frustrated FOR you right now! Why would you tell someone something is a sure thing, only to send them a rejection letter when you get the piece??? Maddening!

    For years I battled the “Oh, you work in DAYCARE?” people. I’m pretty sure they’re just as bad as the people who assume that your writing, isn’t a real career. I would always answer, “Yes, I am a driving force in the lives of children. I challenge you to spend one day in early childhood education and claim it’s not work.” I think you should start saying the same of people who neigh say about your writing.

    You are a brilliant writer and to be a total hippy Melanie: things happen for a reason. You will be published in a magazine, for an article you write, when you are supposed to. I know what doesn’t help and it’s annoying, but it gets me through a lot of the times when things don’t go the way I think they need to. Feel free to cyber slap me. :)

    Or just put on the blue furry coat. I’m pretty sure that coat was MADE to ward off the blues from rejection letters.

  6. Kate responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    @Kerry
    That’s exactly right. It’s so hard to say you’re a writer when you don’t think you have enough to show for it. Even if some people have never had ANYTHING published and are still writers, and your accomplishment is enormous to them.
    I have talked to authors who have had five books published, and still don’t feel like a successful writer. I think it depends where you set the bar.

  7. Valerie responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    How do I handle rejection? I deal with them knowing that I have no other choice. I went to college and can’t find a job in my field. I’ve been working handfuls of minimum wage jobs for the past ten years and struggling through life, but I kept writing the entire time. I didn’t realize that I wanted to be a writer in the career sense until about five years ago. Things most likely would have been easier for me if I hadn’t gone to college because then I wouldn’t be in the debt that I’m in, but that’s life and hindsight is 20/20 and all that.

    On the plus side, I acquired a thicker skin in college and every time I get a rejection it just makes me want to try harder. It probably helps that I get to a certain point in the querying stage every time so I feel like I’m on the right track, but I know I just haven’t reached my full potential as a writer yet.

  8. Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    If you write because it is your life’s passion to write, you are a writer…regardless of the outcome. Just put it out there when and where it feels right, when it’s asked for and trust that the universe will respond appropriately. You are caught up in “attachment.” You have to let it go, before you can let it be…ahhh soooo say KSRL.

  9. Shannoetry responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    This is so familiar. Writing is a hard gig, and I think that even when you know it’s going to happen – in many cases, more often than not – it’s still hard to stay positive and keep moving forward.

    I agree with Melanie – writing isn’t considered “work”, unless you have some tangible proof (read: money, cred in a major publication) that you’re “made it” in the harshest, most unforgiving kind of way. I’ve been a full-time corporate writer for a little over three years now, and it was’t where I planned/hoped to be after grad school. When I finished grad school, I couldn’t even get an internship at a local magazine because I “didn’t have enough experience” to fact-check and make sure all the page numbers were chronological. It broke my heart. Was all that work really worth it? Did it matter at all?

    Over the past few years, while I’ve been working as a writer – and very happy and blessed to do so – I’ve picked up other things that are more in-line with what I’ve always wanted to do. I run a poetry festival now. It’s small, and it sucks up nearly every spare minute of my time, but I love it. I love it! And it gives me meaning and purpose and an avenue to do what I never realized I always wanted to do. And for now, while I’m slogging it out in the corporate world, it keeps me sane. I hope/feel that’s what your blogging is. And one day, the right publication will come along, recognize what an authentic, engaging writer you are, and nab you.

    And if, for some reason, that doesn’t happen, and you still get those “So.. you *write*?” questions, I say, let the haters hate. You’re amazing at what you do and that has to be (in some part, at least) because you’re pretty amazing, and it shines through in your work. If you do what you love, and that makes you happy, does it really need a benchmark? I’ve been dealing with those benchmarks a lot lately, and I’m starting to think they’re not all they’re cracked up to be.

    In the meantime, check out these horrible rejections for some of the greatest writers of our time:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/11/famous-authors-harshest-rejection-letters/248705/

  10. Shannoetry responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    @Melanie – My mother ran a day home for more than 20 years, with more than 100 children coming through her door. She potty trained when parents were literally afraid their children would hate them as a result of the process. Her days started at 6am and ended most nights at 5pm, sometimes later. She’s cared for children with significant health risks – e.g., Black Fan Anemia – and hyperactive toddlers hell-bent on breaking everything within reach! For more than half my life, I watched other people – including, and most painfully, her own mother and siblings – criticize her for “not working”.
    When she was 16, my grandmother pulled her out of school to take care of her brother’s two children because he couldn’t handle it. Missing out on her education – one of the greatest regrets of her life to this day – made her the stron, resilient, infinitely patient and caring woman she is today. She’s worked harder than most people I’ve ever known, and she truly cares and loves the children and families in her life. Today, we still hear from the first children she started caring for – a 4 month old at the time now in her second year of university.
    She’s taken development classes, gotten her Nanny certificate, keeps up on her infant CPR and is approved by the city. The parents she works with adore her and 100% of her business has been through word-of-mouth. Like you, she’s contributing to the healthy development and education of the next generation of workers, leaders and parents. If that’s not work, I don’t know what is :)
    You rock.

  11. Stephanie Laurean responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    I don’t have any rejections stories to share (I have them, just not sharing), but I have a something to say. I LOVE your blog. I don’t remember how I found it, but I am so happy that I did. I check it everyday and am always moved by how wittily and spot on you are in each and every one. I think to myself– YES! This is EXACTLY how I feel– who is this lady that steals my thoughts but writes them so much better than I could ever dream?!?

    I recommend and send links of this blog to all my friends. Then when I ask them if they liked it and I hear that they haven’t even read it I feel like slapping them upside the head! I KNOW they will be just as moved by what you write as I am. They say they don’t have enough time to read things. (Eye roll)

    Please hang in there, when the masses realize how fantastic you are you will be so busy that you can’t see straight.

  12. Kate responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    @Melanie
    The coat! I keep meaning to do a post about it, but I still don’t have any great photos of me wearing it. So fickle.
    And I agree with Shannoetry– taking care of kids is INCREDIBLY important. And anyone who acts like it isn’t is being absurd.
    With me, I think people have a little more space to disapprove. Writing is a little less obviously helpful to the world :-) A little more selfish, maybe.

  13. Kate responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    @Stephanie
    WHAT? Your friends aren’t reading my blog?!
    :-) kidding. I understand that feeling of not having time to read things. And I think as far as blogs go, you need to feel like you’re clicking with the writer to get a lot out of it. But I really appreciate you sharing my stuff! And I really appreciate you reading. <3

  14. Frankie responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    I hate the pressure of having “to do something with my life.” It’s partly self-imposed but mostly because societal norms. It’s ridiculous and unfair and it stifles creativity and idividuality. You are a wonderful writer Kate, and your words touch people every day. That is success and I hope you see that, even if your parents or in-laws don’t understand it.

    Why does one’s occupation make or break how people view them? Isn’t life more than a title? And who’s to say which occupation is better than the other? Society has built this heirarchy of success that has nothing to do with a person’s happiness. The most successful person to me is the one who’s content and happy with who and where they are.

    It’s really frustrating. Sorry if this sounds nasty, I’m not trying to be. This just gets me heated.

  15. Melanie responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    @Shannoetry and Kate,
    Thanks. It was a thankless profession, and one that I occasionally still miss. Luckily, I’ll occasionally see an 18 year old working at a checkstand whom I recognize, and they’ll say, “Miss Melanie!” and that makes it all worthwhile.

    Kate, don’t worry about the post about the coat. Worry about putting that thing on and dancing around to silly music to stop worrying about this rejection letter! :)

  16. Frankie responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    @ Melanie I worked in daycare for a year and a half, and then took my current job as an executive administrative assistant. I hated the way people responded when I told them about my day-care position (One of my insensitive no-longer friends actually said, “You paid for college so you could sit and color with kids on a daily basis?”). I switched to working where I am, partly because of the shame others made me feel and also because the kids’ parents and the administrators bothered me. But I still hate the way people respond when they hear I’m a glorified secretary, only now I miss the children and the joy they brought into my life. Early Childhood Education is important and caregivers should be valued more than they currently are. Afterall they’re the ones shaping our future.

  17. Amanda responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    The only way to avoid rejection is to avoid risk. That’s what I do, and it’s working well for me.

    Of course, avoiding risk also means avoiding the rewards. That’s the part I struggle with.

  18. Melanie responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    @Frankie,
    I feel for you. I was good at what I did. I got through to the kids that everyone seemed to think were the throw-aways, and I made a difference. Unfortunately, that profession could no longer sustain my existence as a single lady with home ownership goals. I have a rewarding job. It’s in cubicle land but it still deals with education and I feel blessed every day to still be doing what I went to school to do, which is make change in early childhood education.

    I still get visits from some kids. One girl I took care of at age 3, came to see me at age 13. It is nice to get to see the influence I had on young minds. (and to some it’s probably scary that the chubby, tattooed chick got to mold so many of them). :)

  19. katie responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    I read once about a guy who puts all his rejection letters up on the wall because the more rejection letters he has, the more things he’s writing and sending out. I admired his ability to focus on the process rather than the product, to give himself kuddos for keeping on keeping on. And I admire your ability to (1) know what you want to do and (2) commit yourself to do it. I know that there are hide-under-your-bed times, but I think it’s awesome that you’re able to say your dream out loud, put it out there for the world, send out your work. I have writing dreams that I think may always be shrouded so deeply in fear and self-doubt that even a rejection letter will be out of reach.

    Keep going. You’ve got something special.

  20. Anne responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    Don’t give up writing! I did . . . and now I teach! But I do have retirement and health insurance and spring break. Anyway, your voice is fresh and funny and original. I should know… I have THREE masters.

  21. Lynellekw responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    If the big-deal magazine came to you, that IS success! They liked your work enough to approach YOU and ask YOU to send them something… the fact it didn’t work out in the long run doesn’t detract from that success.

  22. Kate responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 3:20 pm #

    @Anne
    Three?! Wow. That’s a lot. Are you glad of all of them?

  23. Kate responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 3:20 pm #

    @Lynellekw
    I like that attitude. I want it :-)

  24. lynn @ the actor's diet responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    first and foremost, thank you SO MUCH for not only giving “the man’s guide to love” a shoutout, but my blog post too! i feel your pain; i think the rejection – even when you deal with it 95% of the time, doesn’t get any easier. something i’ve done this year which is really helpful is to give myself something to look forward to that i CAN control. which translates into DISNEYWORLD! i’m planning a trip in april, and if i have work that makes it so i can’t go, great! but if not (which it’s looking like it’s not) i have mickey to play with. each rejection i get is one step closer to orlando!

  25. Kate responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    @Lynn
    No problem! And good luck!!! I really hope it works out!
    And I love your rejection solution. I think a lot of it is about control. It’s so frustrating to always depend on someone else’s opinion of your worth. I think Mickey will think you’re a huge success, if you do end up going :-)

  26. Lucy responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    I just finished college, started the job search 3 months ago. I had 2 interviews right away and none of them worked (one was really close to my idea of dream job) now i havent had an interview in 2 months and im soooooo frustrated.

    I just cant explain how much this piece made me feel better, thanks!

  27. Sarah responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    Kate, you are a wonderful writer, the rare type one wants to befriend because SHE GETS IT. Keep going. I’m roughly ten years older than you and a working classical violinist. Believe me, I know rejection! Define what success means to you and allow it to be a fluid definition. When I started taking auditions I thought I needed a major orchestra job to be considered a success. I wound up in a struggling regional ensemble (technically full-time, but all of it’s members need substantial gig/teaching income to survive). I see how many musicians with far greater talent gave up and left the field, and I realize that I AM a success for simply having pursued my dream. Write on, and “Never, never, never give up”.

  28. Kate responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    @Lucy
    Good luck!!! You will get there. And if you don’t immediately, we can have a beer together and talk it out.
    OK, I don’t like beer. But pie. We could do that.

  29. Kate responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    @Sarah
    You are awesome. It is so incredibly hard to survive as a classical musician. My brother is one. And so are a lot of other people I know. Good for you!!! I love that you’re still at it, even after other people have long ago given up. That is definitely success. Reading this comment made me realize even more than I need to adjust my definitions.
    And feel free to befriend me. I always like making new friends :-)

  30. Deanna responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    I write a little for trade publications in my field. I think I’ve made a grand total of about $500 writing over the past 20 years. I don’t know if you could honestly call me a writer, but I write and I also have an opinion.

    I always wondered why editors took perfectly good material and turned it all around. I understand that there can be logic errors, grammatical mistakes (we all make ‘em), flow problems etc..but who are these ‘editors’ who know so much and why are they not published? Maybe you have a good answer for me.

    First of all Kate, I think you not only write very well but you touch on topics that are not only important to women, but are topics that many people are afraid to discuss. It’s like you are telling everyone that the emperor is running around stark naked.

    Rejection is a bitch. We all face it. I face it when I hear students talking right in front of me about another instructor who is way better than I am and how he or she is sooooooooooooo amazing and works them out so much better than I do. I just smile and leave. I know what I’m doing, I know I do it better than many others in my profession and I know I will probably never be uber popular or loved by the masses. Oh well.

    Keep writing. I am sure you never had any doubt that you would.

  31. Rachel responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    Hi! Maybe you should self-publish these pieces on your blog? Prove them wrong, Kate!

  32. Kellie responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    Hi Kate!

    I hate rejection (of any kind!) too, but LOVE your writing. Don’t know if you have already seen this TED Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert: http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html, but I think you will love it. I watched it 3 times yesterday and it made me think of you and the book you wanted to write your 8 year old self. :)

  33. Sara responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    Hey Kate, I just wanted to a little panel thing on the art of publication yesterday. The two writers who are local but also internationally acclaimed talked about years of rejections and that if you love writing, you have to write for that alone and not for any expectation of money or success. Made me feel soooo much better. In fact, one of them was nominated for the man booker prize recently and the other for the impac award out of Dublin so they know what they’re talking about! We all have to reset our definitions about what success is I think. And it has nothing to do with what other people think of us. I want to be happy, healthy and surrounded by loved ones and friends. The writing is just a bonus. Much love :)

  34. Liv responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    As I like to tell myself (and my writer friends), it’s a darn shame that there are no job ads that read: ISO the next great american author. Said author will win awards, have statues erected in their honor. We’ll take anyone! Work from home. $100,000K a year to start.” Artistic careers are grown from seeds, and if it were easy, no one would ever sell out.

    Let’s all hang in there!

  35. Kate responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    @Sara and Liv
    Hooray for both of these comments!
    Sara– I love learning about other writers’ paths to success. So encouraging.

    Liv–Right?! But then, I suspect that I wouldn’t be pleased with the way the sculpture depicted my nose on the statue of me. So maybe it’s better this way.

  36. mia responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 6:20 pm #

    Look at it this way, Kate: You’re working on your backstory. If you made it big without suffering any rejection, you’d have a pretty boring backstory when it came to making a movie of your life. And I’m really looking forward to that movie!

  37. Kate responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    @mia
    LOL!!! Should I have a near death experience, too? Plain old rejection is probably not interesting enough. Or maybe the movie can focus on my childhood, growing up deprived of sugar and processed foods because my mom was a huge proponent of organic living. Such tragedy! Such a powerful story of suffering and triumph!

  38. Sooz responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    You ARE a writer. And you ARE doing something with your life. Your reaching people by posting awesome stories on your blog. I love this site. It is insightful and funny and intelligent. It usually makes me feel better about myself and my life. Keep your head up. You are AWESOME!!!

  39. Cinthia Ritchie responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    Oh, Kate, thanks SO much for this entry. Rejection is so painful, isn’t it? I think that we should all stand up and cheer for the fact that we have the guts to want to do this small yet very difficult thing, write, when the odds are so against us.

    I love your blog, love your honesty and honey, trust me: You will soon see your name blared across a glossy “biggie” magazine. It’s inevitable.

    Cheers from Alaska,

    Cinthia

    P.S. I think I could paper my walls with all of my rejections, though they have also led me to some pretty sweet publications, too. Hang in there!

    P.S.S. Have you ever read Jac Jemec’s rejection blog? It’s wonderful. Here’s the link: http://jacjemc.com/

  40. Mary responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 9:29 pm #

    I love how even when you’re writing about being rejected, your posts are totally fucking beautiful.
    How do I handle rejection? I don’t know. I’m no better at it than you are, honestly. But I do respect the bejezus out of you for putting yourself out there and doing the work. It’s bound to pay off eventually. But don’t wait for eventually. Do your best to enjoy it right now because if you judge your value by what publications you manage to get into, you could die tomorrow thinking you never did anything worthwhile. Keep doing what you do. Keep writing. Keep being awesome. But enjoy what you’ve got right now because it’s totally fucking rad.

  41. zoe (and the beatles) responded on 22 Mar 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    ah, sorry to hear about the rejection. never such an easy thing to wade through. still, i don’t think you’re not doing anything. you’re submitting. you’re trying (i’m still too scared to even do those things). you’re creating. that is something, whether you chose to see that or not. recognition and money and status, “making it”, as you call it, probably feels great (i wouldn’t know). but then i think, why are we creating? why are YOU creating? it’s a gift. and some people won’t recognize it. but you’re a pretty wonderful writer, kate. people respond to you. so one lady doesn’t think you have “mass appeal”. what does that even mean? who are the masses? are there multiple masses? or do writers write blindly for an imagined collective? (too many questions). writing is meant to touch people. so what if it’s not the masses? people respond to your writing for a reason. we’re all here because your words connected with us. to me, that’s making it.

    anyway, i’m blabbing things you surely already know. i know writing can be difficult. i am still terrified of sharing my words even though i’ve preformed them and read them aloud and passed around copies. just keep your head up and know one persons opinion of your writing really means very little. it’s one opinion in a sea of millions.

  42. mia responded on 23 Mar 2012 at 8:23 am #

    Kate, Something tells me you’d make the story of rejection and sugar deprivation really, really interesting–and funny too!

  43. Maya responded on 23 Mar 2012 at 11:53 am #

    I just got a rejection yesterday too- not a writing piece, but a position for next year. Very frustrating, and hurtful. I had a short cry, and talked it out some, and now, a little break- then I go on. But it still hurts. I’m wishing you the strength to pick up and keep going, yourself. And in the spirit of misery loves company- thanks for sharing your experience, it is comforting to me, in some way.

  44. Kate responded on 23 Mar 2012 at 11:59 am #

    @Maya
    I’m so sorry!! I like your system. Cry, talk, break, move on. That’s practical. Leaves room to be sad, but acknowledges that it’s not the end of everything. I hope another position comes up soon– something you like better. Thinking of you!

  45. Eat the Damn Cake » what the hell is success, anyway? responded on 23 Mar 2012 at 12:58 pm #

    [...] feeling awfully sorry for myself yesterday, and moping around for a bit, and then frantically pitching approximately three-thousand* magazines [...]

  46. Alpana Trivedi responded on 26 Mar 2012 at 11:41 am #

    Hello, Kate. Welll, all I can say is that I concur on lots of things that you say. In today’s world, we have all the self-help books that talk about how we’re busy doing so much that we forgot about the being. The problem is, nobody wants to be the first to live that philosophy. I sometimes think I was born in the wrong time period. I was in college for nine years before I had to graduate. I have two bachelor’s degrees in English and psychology. I have yet to “use” my degrees in a practical way. I AM doing some grad school in a liberal arts program that the Navy offers through a program called NCPace. My point here is, it seems that all I’m good at is going to school. The origins of “higher learning” were to make people better philosophers and thinkers and basically well-rounded people, not necessarily to make a career out of that education. I love to read, write, and philosophize about life. And I’ve heard all the comments about the “writing life.” Mostly negative things like “Don’t quit your day job” or “If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it.” And of course, you’ve got *those* people who tell you they’d be writing too if they weren’t struggling to pay bills/raising a family/taking care of aging parents.

    You’re a wonderful writer. You capture everyday thoughts and manage to make people identify with you. And you’re writing regularly (which is more than I can say for myself right now LOL). And rejection is hard, no matter who you are and how popular you get. I know this may not help much, but your blog has made me think deeply about lots of everyday issues. It makes me feel that I’m not the “only” person who thinks about fill-in-the-blank. Keep writing, even if it’s to throw pity parties (I’d like to be invited to those, by the way).

    A side question. What’s the criteria for being a guest poster?

  47. Lissa Matthews responded on 26 Mar 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    When I receive rejection letters, I get 24 hours to mope. To eat horrid food. To whine and rant and say ‘I suck’ and tell everyone I come in contact with that I suck and am going to get a ‘real job’. My husband gives me 24 hours to feel that rejection and then I have to pick myself up and get back to work. I don’t handle it gracefully. I don’t handle it with thick skin. I don’t want to. I want to feel it because I want to feel the completeness of success too and I don’t think I can if I have to develop this thick skin that keeps me from feeling the sting and kick in the gut of rejection. I think we have to be allowed to feel it all. It makes us more genuine… And hey, I’ve just hit on a blog post. Grins…

  48. What Are We Writing About? « Lauren Ever After responded on 28 Mar 2012 at 9:17 am #

    [...] reading two blog posts about reading that’s a waste of time and rejection, it’s got me thinking a lot about the state of my own blog, the content I create for my [...]

  49. Eat the Damn Cake » Yeah, so I’m a crier. You got a problem? responded on 28 Mar 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    [...] cry because I’m frustrated sometimes. I cried when I got that rejection letter the other day. And then, after like three seconds, I felt so ridiculous for crying that I stopped. [...]

  50. Katie responded on 28 Mar 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    I used to work as the editor of a magazine. I loved writing and the world of the written word and was so excited for the opportunity to be a part of it. I’m not sure why I was hired, though. After I was hired, the Editor in Chief made it very clear (privately and publicly, in front of my staff, over email, any way possible) that he didn’t trust my abilities as a writer. It was heart-breaking to have someone constantly tell me I was a bad writer.

    And it was incredibly frustrating because I could never figure out what I was doing wrong. The first piece I wrote came back to me with no specific feedback. Just that it was awful and that it better not be all that I was capable of doing. I remember opening the word doc, ready to give it an amazing re-write. I was going to find the errors and make it perfect. I stared at it for hours, never quite sure what would make it better.

    I wrote for that magazine for a year. And after that year of humiliation, having my assignments given to the editorial interns instead and unprofessionally blunt criticism from my boss, I realized that even though he did believe in me, I still did. And I wasn’t going to stick around to find out what it was like to lose that.

    I’ve been published in the shiny magazine but that’s not why I call myself a writer. I am a writer because I love to write; I make a habit to do it every day no matter what people say.

    If I ever write a book, it will be dedicated to that first boss who taught me to believe in myself above all things.

  51. Caitlin responded on 30 Mar 2012 at 7:48 am #

    The fact that you are getting rejected means that you are actually trying to get published, which is way more than most people who are writers ever do.

    I personally have changed my benchmarks for writing/publication so that I’m not aiming for a specific number of bylines but rather that I am aiming for a specific number of rejections, because I can’t control how many people accept my pitches but I can control how many times I put myself out there.

    Anyways, please take heart in the fact that you have this wonderful community of commenters and fellow bloggers (myself included!) who admire your writing tremendously. In this day and age, I think it’s just as much of an accomplishment to build a community like this around your writing as it is to have your byline appear in a glossy magazine. Neither is easy! Don’t downplay your accomplishments with your blog just because they don’t fit old-fashioned notions of what it means to be successful!

  52. Kate responded on 30 Mar 2012 at 11:32 am #

    @Caitlin
    Hey, thanks! This meant a lot to me. And I really like your approach– deciding to try a certain amount, rather than depending on other people to choose you a certain amount. That’s really smart. I think I’ll try that.

  53. Lu responded on 31 Mar 2012 at 4:32 am #

    I’m completely hooked on your blog! And I think you’re brave for writing about rejection, I usually just stick the memory in a dark corner of my brain, never to be spoken of again.
    Great post anyway! :)

  54. Martha responded on 06 Apr 2012 at 9:20 pm #

    I have the “braggable” (not a word, don’t care) career path. It sounds amazing in elevators. It sounds like I’m changing the world. But I hate it. And every.single.time. someone says “Wow! That’s awesome!” I feel like a fake and a fraud, because I would give anything to get up and do something that I was interested in, something that I felt born to do (debt says I have to wait on that). I don’t want to minimize your rejection, because that’s painful, but it’s amazing that you know what you are meant to do. And you do it quite well, despite what that editor said. Caitlin (above) is right – the community that you’ve built here is impressive, and the fact that it’s not traditional doesn’t mean that it’s not valid.

  55. Kate responded on 07 Apr 2012 at 11:55 am #

    @Martha
    I think braggable should be a word :-)

    But isn’t it true that you’re not a fake or a fraud, because, even if you would give it up, you’re still proving that you can do it in the first place? See, I’m so impressed that you can have that career (whatever it happens to be), and stick it out. That sounds really badass. And of course, I hope you get to do what you really love soon!

    Also, I appreciate your perspective and your kind words about my career! Means a lot.

  56. may links « her life with books responded on 05 May 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    [...] Rejection Letter [...]

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