Thursday, March 29, 2012

Writers, What do you do with your rejection notices?

Last night was the final class of "Submitting to Los Angeles Literary Magazines," a course I took through the UCLA Writer's Program. The teacher was Michelle Meyering, editor of The Rattling Wall, a journal that published an essay of mine last spring. I'd prefer various forms of torture to driving across the pot-holed, broken-streetlight wasteland that the City of Angels has become. I'd prefer being harangued by phone solicitors to paying UCLA's exorbitant $11.00 parking fees (unless you want the close-by parking--that's $18.00.) But, in an effort to organize the practicalities of my writing life, I endured the 90-minute drive and blew $111.00 in addition to the tuition. I'm glad I did.

Until I learned of Michelle's seasonal submission plan, I'd been trolling the usual submission calendars and email subscriptions to find places to submit my work. I read the lists. I made notes. I tried to figure out what to submit where. Tweaked it. Reduced the word count--or not. Tried to make this deadline with one piece, and that one with another, and that one. And seldom did.

It turns out that many literary magazines have similar seasonal submission deadlines, and Michelle scheduled her class to coincide with the April 1st deadline that is on the early end of the spectrum for spring. So last night, after 9 weeks of studying guidelines, interviewing local lit mag editors, working on log lines, short bios, cover letters, and polishing a single submission, we all showed up with stamps and envelopes. This morning Michelle took our work to the post office and mailed it. My essay is now chugging its way to 15 different literary magazines from across the country. This means rejection, of course. And maybe there'll be an acceptance in the somewhere, too. But what I'm happiest about is that I honed in on one piece and sent it out.

I'm done now. I'm going to read. And read. And read. When I'm ready, I'm going to write. Come fall, if I haven't been rendered completely insane by moving and getting my mother across the county and getting us both settled in my new house, I'll polish another piece and send it out.

To everything
there is a season
And a time to every purpose
Under heaven.

Writers, what do you do with your rejections? Keep them? Flush them? Light them on fire?


Ms. Moon said...

I think I still have all of mine, tucked away somewhere. They were so painful that I have to admit, I haven't submitted a thing in years.
You are brave.

Wrinkling Daily said...

You ARE brave. It is kind of fun though, isn't it to think of your work out there, ready to be scrutinized, critiqued, appreciated and maybe even, wonder of wonders - accepted. I'm with Ms. Moon, haven't submitted any thing in years. But I do still have some of the rejection letters. I kept anything that had a comment. I still felt rejected but at least I felt worth a read. Good luck Denise; you are truly talented and I wish you the best.

Jules said...

This is so great, congratulations! Well done you!

Elizabeth said...

I usually take a cursory look at them and move them to the REJECTIONS file on my computer. Hopefully it won't crash with the weight.