Last night, I felt like pumping myself up, so I went through a special email folder I have for every good rejection I’ve gotten so far: the close calls, the personal editor messages, the “please send us mores.”
I don’t know how other people feel about keeping their rejection letters, but I’ve always kept mine. I read a memoir a long time ago about a woman who would decorate her bedroom wall with hers and how she even went to a Halloween party once in a trench coat with a load of rejections stapled to it. Her costume was “a working writer.” Sylvia Plath said, “I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.”
Clicking through all of my almosts, I felt pretty proud of myself. I didn’t start seriously submitting until December of 2009, the end of my first semester in graduate school, and in these five short years, I’ve had some fantastic publications, a chapbook, and a slew of almosts from reputable and some thoroughly dreamy journals.
I also believe wholeheartedly that if someone sends me a close call rejection, I need to submit to them again. It’s a call to action, not a mope-in-my-soup-bowl rebuke.
I often send to them pretty immediately and include something in my cover letter thanking them for their kind rejection and hoping they like something from this current submission.
The press I want to be published tv hosts two contests a year. I first submitted to their First Book contest in July 2012. Swallow Tongue was then called Predator Tongue and was very much my recently completed MFA thesis. Form rejection. I did a major overhaul and resubmitted it in July 2013. Semifinalist. I did more tweaks and resubmitted it in October 2013 for their Open contest, got another Semifinalist.
It’s all a matter of time. If I gave up now, I wouldn’t ever get there.