26 October 2018

More about Rejections ... again

More about Rejections ... again
by O'Neil De Noux

Got a polite rejection the other day from the editor of a publication inundated with submissions. In the rejection, the editor felt I would, "... soon sell the story elsewhere."

I have great affection and respect for this editor and well, that's how it goes. Sometimes you get accepted, sometimes you don't. I know the story I sent is a good story. As I read the rejection, it felt familiar, like going into my bedroom to take a nap. Somewhere I belong.

The editor has accepted many of my stories in the past and it is always a thrill when a story is accepted. Sometimes you get accepted, sometimes you don't.

Having a story rejected is never as bad as walking across the dance floor to ask a girl to dance and having to walk back alone across the dance floor because there are witnesses at the dance.

The best part of it all is being in the game, being able to send a good story to a good publication. So, I take a nap (naps come easily the older I get) then get back to writing.

The bottom line is to write a story too good to be rejected.

It has been a long, hot summer of writing and more writing and getting the work done. I'm thankful for that. This week we had a couple cool fronts roll through New Orleans and when that happens in October it means (to us) hurricane season might just be over. No matter what we do down here, from June to November we check the National Hurricane Center and local weather channels regularly because a monster can be out there over the warm waters of the South Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, Bay of Campeche or Gulf of Mexico. The ghosts of Hurricanes Audrey, Betsy, Camille, Andrew, Katrina, Rita and so many lesser storms haunt us.

We were lucky this year, not even a tropical storm came our way, and we fell terrible for those who got hit by the big water-big wind monsters.

Just a photo of trees in Covington, LA

That's all for now.



  1. I think rejections are always hard, O'Neil, no matter how successful we are. But I think they are always part of the game. But as you said, "The best part of it all is being in the game," so it's just great to be in the game. So many people never get to play.

    And I'm glad the hurricanes missed you this time around and you got to spend the summer writing. We don't have hurricanes but where I live there's wildfires and earthquakes, so I can relate on some level.

  2. Just when I think I've got it, that Big R letter or e-mail arrives to keep me more humble than I'd like to be. Some rejections I can laugh about (like the one from the Pennington County Jail where I did not send it) and tell them as stories in bars or at conferences, but some others puzzle me. And then there are days when I think I'm two rejected stories away from not needing to get out of bed in the morning. Of course, that's when my subconscious dreams a story start and I have to write it down. Get enough story starts and sooner or later a start will get finished and it has to go somewhere. And the process continues.

  3. What should be the first question at any creative writing class or conference: "So, how do you take rejection?"
    I keep trying to write stories that won't be rejected. But sometimes what I think is one of my best is not, apparently, what other people think. Amazing. Always amazing.
    Very nice trees. Louisiana in November... sweet.

  4. I just looked at my spread sheet. Since late in 2004, I have submitted about 50 stories 310 times and have 20 acceptances, which works out to about six per cent. Right now, I have eight stories out at fourteen markets, and received a rejection yesterday.

    I wish I could write more or faster, but short stories are hard.

    For the heck of it, I checked my novel submissions, too. I still have 17 unanswered queries for a novel I finally self-published (my first) in 2011. It already had 48 rejections. The one that sold to a small publisher with whom I parted ways when I self-pubbed The Whammer Jammers had 70 rejections before it got picked up. All told, the spread sheet says I received 454 rejections for queries and various partials (one complete MS) to agents and editors, and that's not complete because between 1972 and 1981 (pre-computers), I wrote five really horrible novels that picked up several rejections, too.

    That's 644 rejections that I can document and there are probably at least 50 for those old novels.

    Years ago, I took a fiction class with Chris Offutt, who told us his goal was to collect 100 rejections his first year. That was how HE dealt with it. He sold a story after about 60. My first short story sold on the 87th submission, my second (same market) 50 tries and a year later, and the third 22 tries after that. Same market again.

    Sometimes, you can use data as a shield from the reality of how this works...

  5. Good point Eve! I'll incorporate that question into my course.

    It's weird. I've sold every story I've written...over 60...but not necessarily to the first market I sent it to. I admit that I am constantly puzzled by why a particular mag takes one story from me and not another that I think particularly rocks. I wish I knew the magic, sigh. And yes, we are constantly humbled by those letters. Still. After 30 years.

  6. I could identify with this, O'Neil. Sometimes a story feels outstanding, and yet an editor I respect turns it down. I always assume she knows what she's talking about.

    Love the foliage.

  7. Way back when we'd send out a letter with a request for a magazine's submission guidelines (SASE enclosed, natch,) and they sent me a rejection letter!!! :D That taught me to never take them personally!


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