So, let’s talk rejection.
This is an email I received from the New York Times recently after four or five weeks of waiting:
Dear Josh Hanagarne,
Thank you for sending your writing to (insert column, I’ve tried two so far) ______. Although we have decided not to use your essay, we are grateful for the opportunity to consider it. I regret that the volume of submissions we receive makes it impractical for me to offer editorial feedback.
Lord High Editor, Slayer of Your Hopes And Dreams
Okay, so I added that last bit, so what?
When I saw that the email had come, I stared at the subject line for about one minute before opening it. I wanted it to say what I wanted it to say. It didn’t. But I’ll be honest, as someone who has gotten a lot of these, this is a fairly gracious rejection email. Many of the big publications don’t respond at all, and many send form letters that simultaneously manage to feel like they were crafted by soulless robots, and were constructed just to make you feel like you’re crap.
Also, I can’t imagine how bloated the submissions inbox at the NYT is. I’m glad it’s not my job to sift through it.
So, my advice on how to deal with this sort of rejection? First, thick skin. Second: about five minutes after I received the rejection, I had submitted it to another large publication. Now the waiting starts again. I’ve got about 12 of these articles at the ready, and I’ll just keep rotating them around.
Someone will cave in. I’m too much of a pest to quit and not bad enough of a writer to dismiss out of hand.
Thick skin. I recommend it.