Thursday, November 15, 2012

Rejected: A toast to rejection just in time for Thanksgiving

OK, I confess, I have been sending essays out for publication in literary journals. It’s not like a big confession. It’s a little confession or a let me get this off my chest confession. But obviously, writers send their work out. Every writer knows this is a daunting affair. I tell other writers all the time that The Help was reject 60 times before it was picked-up, published and eventually made into a major motion picture that grossed oodles of moola. I like this fact, but not because someone is going to publish my great American essay and I’ll break the bank. I just like to remember that rejection happens on every level in publishing and that as a writer I absolutely must stay dedicated to the work, the joy of the give and take, the push and pull, the struggle and elation of writing.


I go up and down on a weekly basis. This is not a disorder, I’ve learned—just a normal part of life, especially for a writer or someone who is hyper-conscious of avoiding activities that numb and nullify. I allow myself a night or two occasionally to roll around in the mud of self-obsessed self-hatred and abuse. I tell myself mean things from time to time, such as, “Oh, why don’t you just give up. You’re such a loser.” While such thoughts are passing fodder for the better days when I’m more on top of my game, my husband recently toasted at my birthday party, “Look around the room (pregnant pause). Emily sometimes thinks she doesn’t have any friends…but look at all of you…” I quit listening at that point because I had to focus on maintaining a smile rather than tackling him to the ground and shoving the last of the Chevre cheese down his lactose intolerant throat.  I can’t bear such exposure, even among the most intimate of friends. Though, I can, after the fact, revel in the humor of self-obsession, sort-of. My husband means well and has no problem with other people reading his intimate journals, even the ones from grad school when he was a total wack-o or the ones from when he first met me and fell-obsessed. He avoids humiliation by having no secrets, nothing to hide, and feeling no shame. I guess we could say, Yeah for you! You accept yourself, but he has his doubts just like the rest of us.


What I have learned from him, however, is that getting my fears out in the open, confessing my weaknesses to others, laughing at my fool heartedness, helps me feel OK and I think it helps others feel better too, because they can (mostly) relate to the quirks of my human condition (oxymoron).


As I was saying, I’ve been sending these hideous things out, begging literary journals to publish me and getting a few rejection emails in return. My frien Sarah Braud texted me back this morning to say I could expect 50 rejections to 1 publication. So, I’m keeping track. Right now, my post-graduate school count is at 10 rejections and 1 acceptance, with 8 pending. My goal is to write a post for every rejection (or acceptance) letter I receive and submit at least 50 times this year (also, not randomly submit everywhere, but in a well-researched  fashion, submit places where I think my work fits, etc.) I’m hoping this will help me to 1. Send out more work and 2. Keep up with my blog.


Posts your thoughts on rejection here…pretty please!

Love and Kisses,



SMS said...

Hi Emily! I've been submitting too. After a few good responses right after graduation I knew I was in for a long slog of rejections based on the odds. So far that has proven true.
I made a spreadsheet so that every time I got a rejection I would send out another submission.It's been useful because it makes the whole thing clinical, less personal.
I've also started getting more ideas for writing and revision, realizing that my stories always can be improved.
But what can I say? It's a hard, uncomfortable process, putting oneself out there..and getting negged. But it's part of the writing life.
I have confidence in you and your words, and miss you!

Marty said...

Thanks for not making me eat the cheese!

Emily Arnason Casey said...

Yes! I have a spread sheet too and it helps me feel organized and a bit more in control. Haha! It is quite the process and I am definitely learning to revise and revise and revise. Thanks for your constant support! I really appreciate it!

Emily Arnason Casey said...

Yeah well we'll see...thanks for reading!