The other day I got my first ever rejection letter. And no, I don’t mean that girls are rejecting me by mail now too.

Actually, the rejection letter (technically a rejection email) was for a short story I submitted to an online literary journal. They said they enjoyed reading my work, but felt that it just wasn’t a good fit for their publication. I can understand that. Of course, they’d probably tell me that they enjoyed reading it even if I’d sent them a 5,000-word essay on why I love dental floss (it’s magically delicious), but that’s beside the point.

The funny thing is, I’m actually pretty thrilled. Not because I’m some kind of sick, twisted masochist who takes a perverse pleasure in being told that I suck, but because getting a rejection letter means that I’m actually sending my work out there, and people in the business are actually reading it. It means I’ve genuinely taken the first real step towards becoming a published author, as opposed to just whining about wanting to be a writer on my blog. After all, Stephen King wallpapered an entire room of his house with rejection letters before he got his first book published, and look at him now. I’d almost feel disappointed if I was a huge success on my very first try.

Although I think I’d get over the disappointment if it came along with a gigantic paycheck.

Sometimes I can’t help wondering about the timing of things. The very day after I got the rejection letter I got a message on my blog complimenting me on the exact same story that I got the rejection letter for. And while I think that in itself is pretty damn cool, it was also notable for being the first time someone who has never met me personally actually took the time and effort to tell me that they enjoyed my writing (and if you’re reading this, anonymous kind stranger, thanks again!). I mean, it’s great that my mommy tells me I’m a good writer, and I appreciate that my friends are too kind to tell me that I suck, but the fact that a stranger actually bothered to let me know they enjoyed my writing really meant a lot to me.

I really should’ve started this blog sooner. I cringe when I think about how much time I’ve lost just because I didn’t believe in myself enough to just go forit. Of course, I cringe when I think about a lot of the things I’ve done in the past ten years, but that’s another story.

But seriously, if I’d spent the last ten years writing instead of just fantasizing about being a writer, I’d probably have a book published by now. Because while there are a LOT of people out there who are way funnier than me and have way more talent than I do, the reason that I will succeed where some others won’t is that I’m willing to put the necessary effort into it. I know that I have the basic level of writing ability required to get a book published, so the one and only thing that can determine my success is the amount of effort that I choose to put into it. And I choose to put that effort in because it’s important to me. So basically, it’s already a foregone conclusion that I will get a book published at some point. Unless I get distracted by something shiny. Or boobs.

Of course, another reason I should’ve started this blog sooner is that I just really enjoy it. Honestly, there is no possible way that anyone could ever enjoy reading this as much as I enjoy writing it. My favorite part is the links that don’t go to what you think they should, and the hover box (the text that appears when you hold the cursor over the link). These two things add so many wonderful opportunities for stupid humor. I think it’s a shame that news sources and Wikipedia only use them in a serious way. TV Tropes does it right. Still, it’s kind of sad when I think about how much time I spend getting words and phrases to link to stupid things, but hey, at least I amuse myself.

Another thing Scott Adams should be more famous for is his analysis of Affirmations, because what he says is true. Once you make a commitment to pursue your goals, opportunities start to appear. Not because of magic, but because they were always there but you just didn’t see them because you weren’t looking.

For example, I could’ve started a blog at any time, but I never did because I lacked faith in myself and my abilities. But since I made the commitment to go forit, I’ve found that things have literally cascaded in the direction I want them to go. First I started the blog. Then I started corresponding with a friend who is also an aspiring writer (and her book is better than mine, which only inspires me to work even harder), and when I offered to help her edit her manuscript I had to go and read up on grammar and punctuation so I’d know what I was talking about, and that helped me even more. In the process I found some journals to submit my work to, which brings us right back to the rejection letter.

The most frustrating thing for me was looking at something I’d written and knowing that it wasn’t that great, but not quite knowing how to make it better. Now what I’m finding is that as I continue through this cycle of writing-related things, I’m seeing more and more how to make my writing better. And I’m pretty happy about that. And while I’m not particularly thrilled with this blog post (I guess I’m distracted by the prospect of the government-sponsored speed dating tomorrow, which will probably involve an entirely different type of rejection) forcing myself to write one every Monday even when I don’t feel like it is part of the process.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that attempting to turn devastating rejection into stupid humor seems to be a common theme in my life.


About Critical Awesomeness
I'm a 32-year-old American with a PhD in chemistry and a green hat. Only one of these two things is really important.

4 Responses to rejected

  1. I love your writing, just wanted to let you know. Lol. I hope someday you get a letter saying you are going to be published. That would be even better than getting as many rejection letters as Stephen King did. Good luck.

  2. John Aon says:

    that my friends are too kind to tell me that I suck

    My friends don’t get back to me with an opinion either way, even when they’ve been given a properly bound copy to read. I assume this means I really suck. Or they’re bastards.

    • I hate to say this, but it actually did take me a moment to remember who ‘John Aon’ was.

      Did you ever send me a copy of the final, definitive version? I’ll definitely give you an opinion on it.

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