Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Best Literary Rejection

Through my writing life, I've written in a variety of genres:  poetry, non-fiction, theology, literary criticism, short stories, and even a few novels.

I've had more poems published than any other type of writing, but that may be because I've sent out more poetry submissions.  And I'm usually submitting more than just one poem, so I increase my chances that someone will like my work.

When it comes to fiction, I've had the least amount of publication in that area.  There are days when I wonder if I should see that lack of publication as an indication that I'm not a very good fiction writer.

But my Ph.D. gave me extensive training in literary analysis, and when I look at my fiction, long after the glow of writing it has faded, I do see merit.

A few weeks ago, I got one of the best rejections I've ever gotten:

"I kept “Book of the Dead” on hand longer than is my habit — and returned to read it several times. Editorially speaking, for me it became a matter of revision — and the more I envisioned those edits, the more I could see that they would violate what you have intended and shaped. So I’m passing the story back to you — but not without saying that to have had it in my hands is a privilege."

The sting of rejection goes away with these kind words.  I felt like someone had taken the time to read my work deeply, and while it wasn't a match, it was wonderful to know that it wasn't a quick rejection.  I often send out work and wonder if anyone really reads it, especially when the rejection comes the next day.

It's good to know that there are editors out there who are taking the time to read in a way that few of us do anymore.

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