Updated: Apr 15
“We’re sorry, but we cannot accept your piece at this time…,”
“We regret to inform you that…,”
“While we loved your submission, it is not the right fit for us at this time…,”
In the world of writing, these harrowing openers to rejection letters seem to plague a writer’s journey. This art is a precious act, with each piece of yourself being written into a poem, a prose piece, or a play. The dreaded nine-letter word looms around the world of creatives, stalking, preying, waiting to become the newest pain in someone’s side. The heartbreak that ensues following a rejection is one that cuts deep.
Writing is a vulnerable field, a field that invites so much room for a person to bear their soul to an audience. Putting those deep and personal feelings to paper (or, to a laptop screen) is an act that takes courage. Voicing the thoughts that squirm in your head, and allowing them to become tangible and real, in short, takes guts. It takes even more guts to place your work in the hands of a total stranger– that stranger being a publication, a literary magazine or a blog. It can feel like a total punch in the gut when someone reviews your work, and does not see it in the same way that you do. To see your unique experience or idea be shot down with a “no” can be a crushing feeling.
The power originality wields in a field as broad as writing can retain a daunting connotation. Without rules or restrictions, it generates more room for susceptibility, allowing the writer to incorporate more and more of themselves with each use of syntax and semantics, more and more of themselves to be revealed with each word. The frightening aspect of writing is what makes getting a piece accepted somewhere feel so rewarding– it also makes not receiving the ideal outcome hurt even more. However, while the pang rejection breeds is a harsh one, you can always count on the experience to not be a set-back, but to be an opportunity.
Rejection creates room for redirection. What might not have worked for one magazine or publication could be another's dream. Life is built by perspective, for everyone interprets everything differently. You will never come across the exact same viewpoint twice. Everything is subjective, and what is more subjective than thoughts put to paper? The interpretation of writing is what augments its subjectivity. Just because a publication does not resonate with your thoughts the same way you did does not make your ideas any less important, or any less worthy of being heard. The authenticity of words cannot come from other people, for it can only come from one person– you, the writer.
In the midst of rejection, writers find growth. Growth does not have a designated time or place it inserts itself into. It can happen at any time to anybody at any given capacity, no matter where said person is on their creative journey. It allows you a space where you and your work can blossom. Refused writing doesn’t equate to bad writing- it creates a chance to expound on parts of your piece that aren’t highlighted enough, or a chance to polish parts that are rough around the edges. It gives writers an opportunity to make a body of work even better than it already is. It allows you to hone your craft, and to breathe new life into the work. You can leave a piece even better than you started after a rejection, creating something that you might’ve not fathomed without it. This is not to say that your work was turned away because it was inherently bad– it poses another opportunity to better your craft.
To any and all writers, whether it be the ones who have been harvesting their craft for years, the ones just starting out, the ones who haven’t found their voice, or the ones who can hear their soul in their words: my wish and hope for all of you is that you keep going. Keep thinking, keep dreaming, keep writing. Your words are yours, and that in and of itself is extremely powerful. Writing channels an idea, an interpretation, and a feeling that can only be captured by one distinct person in their own unique way. There is a reason why so many turn to this craft as a gateway or a release; writing is freeing in a way only describable by those who share that same love. Every story anywhere is valid, and no matter how many times it might be faced with a “no,” a “maybe,” or a “not this time.” It still deserves to be cherished, as does the person who brought it into the world.