Saturday, May 21, 2011

They can't tell you "no" if you didn't ask

Ah the joy of rejection. Just checked my e-mail to find a thanks but no thanks. A long time ago I used to get really bummed out when a story was passed on. These days I think of it as proof that I'm trying.

When I was in college at ECU, the best teacher I ever had, Luke Whisnant, brought in a shoebox full of little slips of paper. He passed it around and had us all look through his little box of rejection. There were form letters, letters with handwritten notes, letters with just "NO" written across the top...all sorts of "thanks but no thanks."

His reason for bringing this in was to show us that all writers get rejected on their road to publication. Every no in that box was an attempt.

If you're not getting rejected then you're not really trying. Now, that's not to say that I don't feel a flicker of disappointment when a magazine I thought might take one of my stories doesn't, but it's just a flicker. I don't take it as evidence that the story isn't worthy and that I'm no good at this thing.

Luke found homes for all those stories. All those the magazines that where represented in that box were just names of places that didn't jump at the chance to be part of his resume. And that's ok.

It's ok for me too. One magazine down, hundreds to go.

1 comment:

suthrnshopr424 said...


I just finished up a class with Luke this spring, and he too is one of my favorite teachers of all time. Something he always told my class was, "If I can do it, you can do it." It's nice to know that someone else has been affected by his words as well. Do you have any new links for writing contests? They would be so helpful and I'm very new at this!