Adding to the Binder

You may recall my Professional Clear Plastic Binder o’ Rejection. It sat stagnant after my first entry, even though I had a few stories out in the world, waiting to be turned down.

Well, the wait is over! I received three more rejections over the past two weeks — one from the same journal that made my first binder entry, one from a contest, and one from a different journal entirely. The collection is growing!

I swear I’m not being sarcastic. Yes, I type with my tongue in my cheek; but I’m also not typing with bitterness or anger. Rejection is part of the process, and getting a rejection letter means I tried putting my work out there, out for someone to read it. Yes, someone to read it and turn it down, but that’s better than no one reading it at all.

To anyone reading who’s afraid to submit your work for fear of rejection, I encourage you to face that fear and hit Submit. The worst that’ll happen is negligence, like the story I submitted almost four months ago and has remained unopened by the journal I sent it to (Submittable, which many journals use now for submissions, lets you see whether it was just received or if it’s in progress/being read); and even that’s not so bad.

At best, your work will be accepted!

But at somewhere between worst and best, it will probably be rejected, at least the first few times. That’s okay, that’s part of the process, and the rejection won’t be laden with insults or tell you to quit writing forever. Three submissions have been sent back to me with assertions they enjoyed reading each story, notes on the volume of submissions, a polite decline (usually in the form of “It wasn’t right for this journal”), and requests to send more work in the future. That’s it. No pain at all — just a drive to try, try again.

Keep writing, and keep submitting. Remember: every author you love was rejected at some point. Every single one. Getting rejected puts you in good company.

Now, I’m off to print another letter for the binder.

The Rejection Collection

I received my first rejection letter yesterday. I’m not sad about it. Every writer in the history of time has been rejected by someone or some institution. It’s all part of the process, and I almost feel a sense of accomplishment at having gotten one. It’s a first step, another writer milestone to cross off the list.

I enjoy reading accounts of authors who save their rejection letters. I wanted to do the same, but was at a loss at how to do so. I liked Stephen King’s nail on the wall (which later became a spike to hold all the letters), but I didn’t want to copy that, if only because hanging them on my wall didn’t really feel like me. I thought of boxes, notebooks, photo albums (which is how I save postcards) – all good means, but means that didn’t feel right for these letters.

What finally felt right, though, was a means of presentation from one of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes strips:

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The strip is part of a series where Calvin has to write a report on bats. He approaches the project with the same care he usually takes with schoolwork, meaning zero to none. The whole series (which starts here) is a scream, but what tickled me most was Calvin being convinced that the key to success was a Professional Clear Plastic Binder.

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Naturally, that was not the key to Calvin’s success. He failed the report, but even in the end, he was still convinced the binder had power – it was just ignored:

binder-2

I remembered this series as I thought of ways to collect my rejection letters, and after laughing at the memory of the whole series, I decided that I had to collect them in one of my favorite running jokes.

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The binder itself is not clear, but it is filled with clear plastic sleeves which will hold my letters with pride.

I had a lot of fun putting this together. In addition to Calvin and Hobbes, the title also pays tribute to Pearls Before Swine and the running gag of creating an Item o’ Something (such as the Box o’ Stupid People). I chuckled almost the whole time as I printed the cover and placed the clear plastic sleeves in their rings. I smiled as I christened it with my first rejection letter.

I could wax poetic about the deeper meaning of presentation versus substance that Calvin’s report signifies; as well as the fact that he buried the report and moved on (though I’d like to think I learn more from my shortcomings than Calvin usually does). Honestly, though? I chose this collection method because it made me laugh. I laughed all over again as I loaded the comic strips to the blog post and read them on Go Comics. I laughed and had fun in the face of rejection. Ultimately, that’s what the process needs to be – and collecting them in one of my favorite jokes, one that always makes me smile, will help me do that.

I truly look forward to filling my Professional Clear Plastic Binder o’ Rejection with more letters. I look even more forward to starting the Binder o’ Acceptance. But, one collection at a time.