fbpx Skip to content

What (Story) Rejection Feels Like, and Why We Still Need Pitchforks

Ahh, the wonders of rejection.

Hold on, that statement DOES makes sense. You see, I mean rejection in the form of a publication rejecting my submitted story, “The Purpose of the Plague.”

The publication in question, Pseudopod, felt it was not a good fit at this time. Which is their prerogative. Nobody go throwing pitchforks through their window or anything.

(Wait, they’re a podcast. They don’t have a window. Do we even use pitchforks outside of horror movies anyway?)

I say ‘wonders’ because it is at this point that many writers experience an intense self-punishment. Ugly thoughts pour into their minds like oily black sludge flooding your left ear.

(Writers’ groups have weird party games.)

What kind of thoughts?

“I’m not good enough.”
“My work stinks.”
“They hate me.”
“Nothing I do matters.”
“I should take up ballet instead.”

fiction story rejection
Now all of you may bask in the visual of me in tights, crashing into wooden set pieces. You’re welcome.
Photo by Adam Littman Davis on Unsplash

What’s ‘wonder’-ful about all of these sticky gross thoughts, and the crippling depression accompanying them like some barnacle-infested remora? They’re all bullshit!

Now, don’t get me wrong…there ARE bad writers out there. LiveJournal. Tumblr. ‘Nuff said. Invariably, many of these bad writers submit “work” to publications. Said submissions probably make its employees weep openly for the very concept of the written word, beaten and abused and locked in a cage of brain-stinging stupidity.

However, the odds are good that my writing is not among this retinue of written revulsion. Why? Because it repulses me too!

The Buried Truth of Publishing: Publishers are People Too

If my work is then good, why the rejection?

From good friends who’ve worked at publications in the past, I know of many reasons for their rejecting good stories:

  1. Too many stories on the editorial calendar already
  2. Story’s not as relevant to their audience as another submission
  3. Bad timing
  4. Publication’s undergoing a change in one department or another
  5. Simple mistake in organizing submissions
  6. The sacrifice to Cthulhu survived the ritual
  7. File got corrupted along the way
  8. Story just needs a little more polish

(I might be a bit off on one of these. Maybe the organizing one. Yeah.)

Anyway, when faced with the “They rejected my work!” situation, a writer can do one of three things.

  1. Allow the sticky gross thoughts to dominate your life. Sink into Poe-like levels of depression. Press the Darth Vader ‘Noooo!’ button. Stop creating. Make others miserable with your very existence. Throw your self-loathing over others like an inky cloak of loathing-ness.
  2. Swear bloody vengeance upon the publication. And anyone associated with it. Carry out your grisly oath with aplomb and disposable razors. Then write a new story based on the brutality of their deaths.
  3. Write more. Try again.

As, er, colorful as #2 might sound, we all know the best course of action here. (Not to mention the easiest, legally and logistically speaking. You don’t get a ‘reveeeenggge!’ discount on plane tickets.)

fiction story rejection
Dude, you’re not depressed, you’re dead! Move on already!
Photo by Gabriel on Unsplash

Rejections happen. We get them all the time. Rejected for jobs, dates, membership in the International Society for the Preservation of Pitchforks. It’s not a condemnation. Just a “not now, not yet.”

Besides, I can submit the story someplace else. Which is what I’ll do right after this post goes up.

Hope you enjoyed!

(Don’t forget to check out my Instagram, @10SecondsofWrong. Groaners, snorters, and eye-rollers galore!)

Published inFiction Writing