Monday, September 08, 2008

Rejecting Rejection: An editor's perspective

Here Blood Orange Review editor Heather K. Hummel shares how she learned to let go of rejection slips and keep going:

I am not one of those writers who plasters her wall with rejection slips. I do not have a file overflowing with "Sorry, not for us" notes. Some time ago, I decided that habit was a really bad one for me--one that would weigh me down and wear me out. So, now, when the rejection slips arrive in the mail (and it's an almost daily occurance) I make note of it on my submissions spreadsheet and recycle it immediately. If it is a really disappointing one--say for the Wallace Stegner Fellowship, I let it sit on the counter while I cook dinner and I pout at it for all I'm worth while I chop and stir-fry. And then I recycle it.

One spring, I lived at a yoga ashram and my parents handled my mail. My dad would read the rejections outloud over the phone and then launch into a peptalk about not giving up. Every day. Having my rejection slips read out loud was miserable--and ludicrous. But somehow, it gave me a sense of humor about receiving them. Try reading your next rejection slip outloud, and then at the end add a "buck up kiddo, your are trying and that's all that counts" in a concilatory fatherly voice. I guarantee you'll laugh. Or, maybe cry and then laugh. And then it just becomes part of the process, like tilling the soil or weeding, and waiting for the squash and pumpkins to burgeon.

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