The Great Wall of Rejections

They just don’t want what I’m selling.

They being the myriad of literary magazines I have sent my work to countless times, from [PANK] to Tin House to subTerrain to Carve. Short stories and poems, quiet reflections.

The publications boast several different nationalities and styles, graced with teams of editors that have decades on me. They’re inaugurated. They’re in the industry. They’ve got something I don’t.

That has to be something that I can handle, lest the jealousy render me motionless. At a certain point it becomes necessary to roll straight toward rejection motivated only with the knowledge that if I stop moving it’s forever.

Conservative estimates tell me that I will be rejected for publication at least eighty times before my work is published, with many authors pushing one hundred. I repeat the mantra to manage this mass of unpaid labor in cover letters written with love, in hours of research, in the inevitable of rejection.

They just don’t want what I’m selling.

There is comfort in accepting the negative, pushing forward with the expectation of nothing. Habitual rejection has become the norm, haplessly dotted with a few merciful moments.

I printed out my rejection emails in Times, the titles of the magazines bold in Impact. Cut them up slim. Arranged them above my workspace, all of those words that almost were, those apologetic emails talking about the idiosyncratic nature of editors or the volume of submissions. With each new rejection I am one step closer to acceptance, right on cue at the eightieth attempt.


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