A poetry site rejected seven poems I submitted for consideration. The editor thanked me for submitting my work and remarked that “It was a pleasure to read. However, we regret to say that it doesn’t quite fit our daily menu.”
Ouch. Seven rejections with one salvo.
The submission guidelines encouraged poets to send “your best work” since publishing space was tight.
Rejected AND repudiated. I felt like the clay target at a skeet shooting competition.
I read the editor’s email while sitting in the parking garage at work. Great. The news didn’t make my evil, boring, one-hour commute home any better. That’s when the self-examination began.
I recalled the twenty-five rejections I received last year after submitting my novel to agents. That was different: only one work was rejected. The poetry editor stamped REJECT on seven works! That means seven ego-deflating and self-confidence bruising broadsides in one sitting. I felt like Wile E. Coyote pummeled by seven anvils at once.
Once I made it home after the longest commute of my life, I sat at my desk to work on the revision to my novel. The poetry rejection stayed in my mind. I tapped out a few dozen words in my novel but didn’t feel like writing. I began to question whether my novel was any good. I told myself people would probably think my story was stupid. I wondered what made me think I could write. I thought “Why bother?”
It’s common for writers to fall into crises of confidence. It doesn’t take much for us to question ourselves and our abilities. Writer’s block, negative critique and faint praise, lack of topics, ennui, sloth, other writers’ success, all have an affect on our writing process and how we view ourselves as writers.
My writing journey began four years ago after years of false starts. I once told my literature professor there was a story inside me waiting to come out. Twenty-five years later I wrote the story, and twenty-five rejections later I’m still working on the novel.
It’s my dream. It is something I have wanted from the day I read Rin Tin Tin as a little boy in the Netherlands. It’s something I want every time I read a novel today. If all those other people can do it, I can too. I want to be the next Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dickens, Twain, all writers do.
But I’ll settle – no, I’ll be happiest – for the opportunity to sign my name,
William C. Pennington, Author.