I received my first rejection letter on 23rd December 2009. If I'm honest, I was a bit gutted and more than a little worried that I had been presumptuous in sending the story off in the first place. What if the person who read it gave up after the first paragraph because it was so bad? What if it was a textbook example of how not to write a short story and I was delusional for thinking that anyone would want to read it? I believe I ate the best part of a box of Christmas biscuits while commiserating with myself (there aren't any other writers in the house to commiserate with).
I'm now a veteran of rejection; I've received all sort of rejection letters and emails. I tend to divide them into three categories: condescending, form and encouraging. My favourite condescending rejection begins with the comment, 'Your story has not met with success because we feel the storyline was too downbeat to entertain our readers' - I swear that my Dad somehow infiltrated the editor's office in order to write it. Form rejections are boring and disappointing because they indicate that my writing didn't stand out at all. Recently though, I've been getting encouraging rejections (*oxymoron alert*). Earlier this month I received a long letter, explaining that the story in question made it to the last round of the selection stage, but missed the final cut because the editors couldn't warm to one of the characters. Such rejections are frustrating because of the 'so near, yet so far' feelings that they engender while being simultaneously encouraging due to the constructive feedback which they contain.
I suppose the point of this post is to remind me to keep going. Along with the many rejections I've received, I've had acceptances too, but while the rejections are now just a part of everyday life, they still significantly outnumber the acceptances: if I ate a whole tin of biscuits every time I got one I'd be headed for a heart attack. I have to remember this: the story that was rejected on 23rd December 2009 was an early draft of a story that was also rejected by Mslexia, although it was mentioned in the magazine by their editor as a story she especially liked. I redrafted again and it went on to win the Edge Hill MA Prize.
Here's a link to a blog that makes my rejection letters look boring.