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My First Rejection Slips

As we approach the end of the I find myself remembering my first rejection slips. Yes, there were there were two of them. I’m not sure they arrived on the same day, but I did mail (snail mail) the two articles on the same day. I remember that because I was scared to even send them.

Those were the first two articles I’d ever dared to submit. I’d had lots of ideas and many false starts and finally got it together to get two finished and in the mail.

One, I think, was about camping with children and I don’t remember the other, nor do I have paper files that go back that far – not by a long shot.

One I submitted to Family Circle; the other to Woman’s Day. Both magazines are still going strong and you can still find them at the checkout stand at supermarkets. Both are aimed at families. And both still pay reasonably well.

I was a single mom with small kids at home in those days and so I was writing what I knew.


Both the articles were written and rewritten on a typewriter! (Am I really that old? I guess I am 😉 )

Both were sent flat in an 8 x 11 inch envelope and each had it’s own self-addressed stamped envelope.

Was I ever that young? I remember myself then as lacking in confidence about life in general, not just writing. I almost talked myself out of sending the articles out.

Both were sent on spec in what’s still known as an over-the-transom submission. In other words, I sent the whole article without a query letter. It was, as I recall, incredibly difficult to get the articles actually written in a form that I found acceptable. Query letters were beyond me then.

I don’t know how long it was before those SASE envelopes were came back. Each was thick with what I assumed was my manuscript. That sort of prepared me for the rejection slip that was contained in each.

I remember the sinking feeling as I read those impersonal, pre-printed rejection notices.

I don’t remember how it came I had the courage to post both rejection  of them on my bedroom wall, but I did.


Even in my disappointment I knew that I had completed something important. I’d written, I’d rewritten and I’d submitted the articles. It was much later that I learned how many people never get all the way through the process.

That’s my story about my first rejections slips. What’s yours?

You might also want to read: Rejection – The First Step To Successful Freelance Writing

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{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Rejection Hurts. There’s no two ways about it. You were unlucky enough to get rejected offline – so I guess it becomes more personal.

    As a person who begun writing in late 2004/5 I have had it easier. Send in an email, most never bother to reply, so I always have this chance of ‘hey, they didn’t read it’, or ‘hey, the mail never reached them. I will resend them once I get the time’. though in my heart I knew that I was scrutinized, tested, and found wanting. 🙂

    Nowadays, rejections come to me over mail, but with a varied number of reasons ‘project canceled’, ‘awarded to someone else’ etc.

    Thats the way I like it. 😀
    .-= Roy Daniel DSilva´s last blog ..Work at Home Tips: A Paid Subscription to a Job Site? Hold that Thought! =-.

  • Sometimes I feel like I was the rejection king, but I’m sure I’m not.

    My first rejections were of my songs in the 80’s, as I wanted to be a professional songwriter. I didn’t get a single one that said I couldn’t write; every one I got said they couldn’t hear a pop hit in the song. Truthfully, I think I only wrote one song ever that sounded like a top 10 song; who remembers when Lionel Richie was on top?

    Then in 2003 and 2004 I sent out a lot of letters trying to get a publisher to accept my book for publication. I ended up with close to 50 rejections before I decided to just self publish the thing and move on. I even got Ken Blanchard to read it, as it is a book on leadership and management; he liked it, but said it wasn’t in his style, which was fine because it wasn’t supposed to be.

    I will say that I’ve kept some of the rejection slips, but not most of them, mainly because of my music experience. I figure that at least I had the guts to try.
    .-= Mitch´s last blog ..My Online Goals For 2010, And A Look Back At 2009 =-.

    • Anne

      thanks for sharing Mitch

  • I think my first one was for a story contest in Cosmopolitan in the 80s. I sent this really stupid story about a woman who has an affair with her friend’s younger son. It was TERRIBLE. But it was kind of cool to actually get rejected; I felt like a real writer!

    I didn’t submit anything for a long time after that, not because I was afraid or upset, just because I wasn’t writing as much, only journaling. Then came loads of homework when I went back to school, and finally I got back into fiction. Now I’m querying a book and collecting them right and left. I’ve made a file for them and I’ll save them for posterity when I’m rich and famous, LOL!
    .-= Elizabeth West´s last blog ..Feed Me =-.

  • I can’t remember my rejection slips in any particular order. One from SEP called the piece fun to read and encouraged me to send more. One from another mag said, “a good read, but a trifle bizarre for our readers.” A Sci-Fi mag’s editor gently pointed out that their fiction had definitive endings, something I should have known. I’ve saved all my rejection slips, hoping, once I’m successful, to buy a big house and wallpaper the smallest room therein with the slips.
    .-= jorgekafkazar´s last blog ..Tenirax, Ch V =-.

  • Rejection? I spent the first year of my freelance life getting rejected almost every day. But, I considered contact with an editor a triumph and just sent query after query until one stuck!! Nice post:)
    .-= Almost Slowfood´s last blog ..Super Easy Dinner: Pork Chops with Apples and Sage =-.

  • Funny, but I felt I could not handle rejection, so I never tried until later in life…love this site, and thanks Rebecca for posting it!
    .-= Chef E´s last blog ..Wine-down Wednesday- A Popping New Year! =-.

  • thanks for sharing it gives me hope

    Happy new year

    Rebecca
    .-= rebecca subbiah´s last blog ..Asparagus with Sesame and Peanut Sauce =-.

  • I’ve always tried to think of rejection as another rite of passage. And each rejection is one rejection closer to acceptance. In practice though, it always sucks, lol.

    I find that these days, with email, the sting is lessened because it can be so much more informal. Just the other day, I emailed an editor of a new magazine about dogs (kind of my area) to sound out the possibility of contributing, and to find out the sort of stories they had planned. He responded positively, but I think the scariness of it (and therefore the likeliness of being crushed by rejection) was definitely less than if I’d been waiting by the mailbox for my yea or nay. And, in fact, this way I had a much better idea of what they were after than if I’d just tried to guess and pitch them something.
    .-= Lucy Smith´s last blog ..Why are we not content with web content? =-.

  • Hi Anne,

    great post and honest. I think it’s important to look back on rejection, it’s the only way we grow. Plus by talking about negative things in our life it inspires others they are not alone.

    Re-tweeting it now

    • Anne

      thanks! yes, the you’re not alone, or I’m not alone is important.

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