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Rejection, rejection, rejection.

January 5, 2012

Anyone who’s ever decided to even think about writing a word in the hope that someday, somewhere, some other person might eventually consider reading it has heard the unofficial writer’s mantra. No, not “show don’t tell.”

The other one: “expect rejection.”

Stephen King – true to his ‘king of horror’ spirit – impaled his rejection slips onto a spare nail in his basement. Many successful authors claim to have tackled rejection in the same fashion, by hoarding them, treasuring them, and taking comfort as the number of pages increased. It means that you’re trying, right? Breaking through the paranoia and putting yourself out there, right?

We’re lead to believe that a continuous stream of heart-wrenching, gut-breakingly impersonal ‘thanks but no thanks’ sentiments are all part of the rough ‘n’ tumble of pre-publication heartache. It’s a rite of passage. Savour those moments, because they’re battle scars that show you’ve done the time, put in the leg-work, earned your place in the world of publication.

No, thanks. You know what I do with my rejection slips (and I can assure you, there have been plenty, with many more to come)? I chuck the fuckers in the bin (be it digital or otherwise), along with the plethora of erectile dysfunction solutions and Nigerian bank account schemes.

Respect the rejections, but don’t let them get ideas above their station.

That said, I do keep an incredibly anal submissions spreadsheet. The “Progress” bit looks like this:

Progress Column

It just looks so much more jolly than a big red sea of rejection. I don’t want my submission failures to look like a sanitary towel, thnx. There are websites like Duotrope that work as a submissions tracker, and whilst I love Duotrope for finding new anthologies, journals, zines, competitions and e-zines, I’ve kept this spreadsheet for five years now and nothing can beat it. So much so, I’ve uploaded a template of it here for you to use: Alice’s Submissions Template.

It’s so cold right now in Limehouse. So very cold.


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