"Oh, Woe, woe, woe, et cetera. . ."--Ezra Pound

"We have read your manuscript with boundless delight.  If we were to publish your paper, it would be impossible for us to publish any work of lower standard.  And as it is unthinkable that in the next thousand years we shall see its equal, we are, to our regret, compelled to return your divine composition, and to beg you a thousand times to overlook our short sight and timidity."--Rejection slip from a Chinese economic journal, quoted in
The Financial Times.

"And I recall an account of Trollope going up to London to pick up a rejected manuscript from a publisher, getting on the train to return home, laying the bulking bundle on his lap, and beginning a new book on the back pages of the rejected one."--Author unknown

Rejection?  What rejection?  It's the ticket to a fine club, which soon enough will throw you out on your ear.  Okay, okay, nothing makes it better or easier.

  • ADVICE. I find the following observations on publishing fairly cynical, but reasonably true as well--so there is some hope.  And the suggestions are so simple they are devastating.  Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein, in a speech delivered at the U.S. Naval Academy in 1973, offered the following five rules for successful writing.  They are as true now as they were then.

1. First, you must
2. Second, you must
finish what you write.
3. Third, you must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.
4. Fourth, you must place it on the market.
5. Fifth, you must
keep it on the market until sold.

  • The bottom line is, you need to have a good and real plan in place for when that work comes back.  Keep it moving.  Everyone gets rejected for all kinds of reasons--don't take it personally, and don't take it out on the work.  The best way to take care of that work, and to let it take care of you, is to shush it back out of the house, and with confidence.  Failure here is not in the work itself, but in you not, at very least, letting it take care of itself.  Your best work will be stronger than you are.
  • And do send your work out.  Think of it this way: you and an editor may not always agree, but here are the two scenarios.  The editor will think the work does not fit into the journal's pages.  Or, the editor will think it does.  What you think is not in the equation at this moment, so get out of your work's way.  It is time to let it speak for itself.

"Nothing stinks like a pile of unpublished writing."
--Sylvia Plath