Rejection Letters are “Not Yet” Letters

I received a rejection letter on August 2nd from an editor of a literary journal. Before I even opened the envelope (my SASE) I knew that it was a “No.” The envelope was thick and likely contained the handful of poems I had sent in. It did. On my cover letter, the editor had written: “Sorry to say no. The Editor.”

Sure, I was disappointed. It could have been worse. No reply at all would have worse. “NO!” would have hurt. “Mr. McBride, please consider keeping your day job” would have been even worse.

A friend of mine who is a poet and writer advised me to “use rejection letters to paper your study! Always have a new [submission] ready to pop in the next post.”

The bulk of rejection letters I’ve received have been kind. One editor re-wrote one of my short poems. Now, that is gold! Another editor wrote that my poems “were engaging” but “not up to all of our standards.” That is actually very encouraging!

I remain disappointed; however, I treat these rejection letters as “Not Yet” letters.

I love the magic of an acceptance letter, or even an acceptance email! I want more – OK, many more – of those!

So, I won’t give up. I’ll revisit the poems, tweak them, read them out loud, and rewrite. I’ll check the line breaks; do the line breaks work? Then, I’ll send them out again!

For my readers who are writers: press on with your writing. Keep true to your vision for your writing. Press on; don’t give up! Treat any rejection letters you receive as “not yet” letters!

Blessings, Andy

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About Andrew Shattuck McBride

I am a writer, editor, writing coach, and consultant. I work in a variety of genres, including poetry, short stories, and creative non-fiction. I also have a couple of novels simmering on back burners. THANK YOU to Nan Macy of Village Books for taking this photo (June 2011).
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2 Responses to Rejection Letters are “Not Yet” Letters

  1. elisajeglin says:

    I’ve had a few “not yet letters,” it’s given me time to reassess what I want out of my writing. Also, even though it hurts, it does make me feel a little better knowing I’m not alone.

    • Hi elisajeglin, thank you for your comment.

      I think it is very wise to use “not yet letters” to reassess what you (we) want out of your (our) writing. These letters also are valuable in leading us to hone our writing and to research markets even more carefully and thoroughly. If an editor takes the time to comment, that response can be like gold. If there is advice, it should be considered carefully.

      A “not yet letter” may not even be about our writing. Editors may know what they are looking for; they also know what they aren’t looking for.

      No, we are not alone in receiving these letters.

      I want to develop a scorecard for these letters and write a post which I’ll just update continuously. For example, I heard recently that Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind was rejected circa 38 times. Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected over 100 times.

      Here’s to success with your writing and your projects!

      All the best, Andy

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