Monday, January 14, 2008

Collecting Rejection Slips--Yes or No?

What do you do with your rejection slips? I used to save mine, filling up shoeboxes with them. Naturally, the ones with “real” handwriting, from a live person, got special attention--pored over and hyper-analyzed before being filed in a folder so I could send my work to the same editor by name, with my own “real” handwriting: “You suggested I try again.”

Then I started wondering why I was keeping all these rejection slips, and eventually I made the decision to throw them all away, even the ones with the handwriting. I’d like to say I instantly felt better, or that suddenly all the negative energy in my life disappeared, but I don’t think that was exactly the case. (Though I did free up space in my closet, which is always welcome.)

While I didn’t have a rush of joy at disposing of those boxes, I will note that receiving a rejection in the mail today is somehow slightly less emotionally fraught: I open the envelope, read the slip, and carry it straight to the trashcan, and think about what to do next. It feels like I’m giving myself a fresh start with the story; there’s no lingering baggage, no anchor on the story, no albatross around my neck.

And you know what? I’ve never once wished I could go back through those shoeboxes to find that rejection slip from 1995 from Prairie Schooner.

If you’re not sure what to do with your rejection slips, here's an excellent post on Buzz, Balls & Hype about the complexities of the situation, with some suggestions for how to shed your rejection baggage and why it's so difficult to toss those buggers.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.