I had my first run of rejections on my script this week. The sentiment thus far has been “not for us.” Damn. And I had already picked out the car I was going to buy. And some spinny rims.
For me, 83 was the magic number. When I began writing years ago, back when I was determined to conquer the world of literature and bring about a bohemian renaissance, I submitted dozens of short stories to more publications than I can possibly remember the names of. Each rejection letter was something to be proud of, a symbol of some effort to put myself out there regardless of what people thought and prove I wasn’t another asshole sitting at Starbucks talking and not actually doing. I had read that Hemingway was rejected 83 times (I’m not sure if it was Hemingway or Frost) and I knew I could break his record.
My grand total for the years of 2000-2004? One-hundred and twenty-seven, baby! 127 rejection letters. And for a while I kept these pinned above my desk, eventually creating a kind of rejection wallpaper which spread from floor to ceiling. Against those 127 rejections I had two pieces accepted and published during this period. My first was a short I had submitted that was chosen for a bi-annual University publication to be printed in their Winter-Fall. I waited three months, only to receive a copy of the publication in an air-sealed express envelope with my name printed above somebody else’s work. “Sorry,” the attached letter said. “There was a problem with the printer we used.” The second, and unfortunately not the first, was a piece that was so awful I hope to one day track down all 400 copies of that publication’s run and have them launched into deep space.
Shit happens. We go through rejection in stages. Although nobody can agree on how many stages there are, scouring the internet I found these five basic motions:
“How could they not like my story? It had a frickin’ monkey army!”
“I knew it. I’m a talentless shit-dick. Why do I even bother?”
“Okay…maybe they just need to see my artwork to put it all into context…”
4. Lashing Out
“…wait a minute. They DID see my artwork. Well fuck you! Guess who just lost the rights to APES OF WRATH 2?”
5. Fuck it, dude. Let’s go bowling…
“Yeah, well. There’s always that web series…”
I think it helps to work the stages into your own writing world. When I feel down from being rejected it’s like I drift off to a special place…
…a place where I can no longer feel the pain of the world… a place too deep to be cut with their claws…
…a place high atop a weird head, surrounded by the mystic sands of ultimate sorrow where i belong…it starts with one…
…one thing, i don’t know why, it doesn’t even matter how hard you try…
…i tried so hard, and got so far…but in the end, it doesn’t even matter….
…i had to fa- HOLY SHIT IT’S A FUCKING FLYING WHALE1!!!!!!!!!!!