Your submission does not meet our current needs. Why do so many editors use that same message? Can’t they come up with something more original? I’m often tempted to reply, “Your rejection doesn’t meet my needs!”

Actually that form rejection says iit more clearly than the unfathomable turndowns, like one I got recently from a well-known magazine. The message informed me that the staff “enjoyed” the story and the “wonderful” writing, but “we aren’t going to publish it.”  No explanation. It sounds like the familiar dating line, “you’re great but…”

At least these forms acknowledge our existence, unlike the snail mail submissions where the self-addressed envelope comes back without even the courtesy of a rejection slip. I once tried the ploy of phoning the editor of a top magazine to ask – all innocence! – if the absence of a form meant the story was accepted. “Someone forgot to include the rejection slip,” he said, “but I’ll be glad to read you what it says.”

It isn’t only editors who use format replies, agents are just as unimaginative. Usually we’re informed that he or she has to “fall in love” with a manuscript and,obviously didn’t. The standard postscript is to assure us another agent might “love” our work. So where is that mythical agent, in outer space?

Do the interns routinely assigned to read submissions really go beyond the first paragraph? I tested this several times by inserting a slip of blank paper between the pages. Each time the manuscript returned with that telltale piece of paper intact.

Since rejections seem built into our profession, what are we to do? Give up? Throw our manuscript into the wastebasket? (Tennessee Williams tried that, but his far-sighted agent rescued ”The Glass Menagerie” from the trash!)  We can remind ourselves that Harry Potter was repeatedly turned down  by numerous  publishers. We can even paper our room with rejection slips, as a woman I know did. (The ultimate in masochism?)

The best strategy for me came wrapped in the advice a fellow writer offered years ago. He suggested that each time I send out a story I should simultaneously address the next envelope. Then as soon as the poor waif of a story comes back, an envelope is waiting to carry it into the world again.

Now that we more often submit via the internet, I use a parallel method. I keep an index card file of submissions  and also down three alternate possibilities. So when I get that inevitable rejection, I can submit again without any delaying tactics.

The reality is that rejection lurks in every aspect of  life. How often have you been hit by an audible – or inaudible  –  “no way,” by a supposed friend, a CEO, your teenager (!), even the one who swore to love you forever but inexplicably has a heartless change of heart?

The only way to save our sanity is to refuse to see rejection as a Dead End. As the song goes, “keep hope alive.” And  believe that eventually a perceptive editor will say, “Yes!”


BOOKS: “Wdow’s Walk” – available through; “Turning Toward Tomorrow”-; “Ten Women of Valor” snd “Role  lPay”- and Amazon Kindle.

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