Day 266: Get rejected

May 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

“It’s never too late to start your collection of rejection letters.”

My magazine writing professor preaches that adage like it’s the Lord’s Prayer.

It turns out that today was a good time to start my collection – a collection which I expect to fill a landfill by the time I die. And I mean that in the most positive way possible. Rejection letters are just a part of the business, and I fell as if receiving my first one is a sort of rite of passage.

Actually, the rejection isn’t even for a real piece of journalism. It’s for a satire I wrote of Groupon for the humor department of The New Yorker,  Shouts and Murmurs. I realize that The New Yorker is quite a lofty place to start pitching my first freelanced piece, but I figure, a rejection is a rejection, it never hurts to start at the top.

I learned today that Rachel Carson, who wrote many prolific pieces including Silent Spring, received fifty rejection letters for her first piece of writing before it was picked up by The New Yorker and later became a book. If that’s not an inspirational story for long-form journalists I don’t know what is.

Pulitzer Prize winning author Saul Bellow once said, “I discovered that rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgment and to say in his heart of hearts, ‘To hell with you.'”

I’m certainly not going to say ‘to hell’ with The New Yorker, but I am excited to rework the piece and send it elsewhere. McSweeney’s Internet Tendency perhaps?

I have a feeling that rejection letters will be a little bit easier to collect than bottle caps or baseball cards, though they may not be worth as much in fifty years at the Antiques Roadshow.


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