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100 Rejections

A milestone has soberly been reached. My various stories have now received a total of 100 (or more accurately, 101) rejections. Here are the top ten rejects:

1. "Mahalia" [17]
2. "The Fixer" (published by Gapers Block), "Hope Cafe" [9 each]
4. "Mercy Day" [8]
5. "The Way Business Is Done" [7]
6. "Immortality", "Freewheeling", "A Son Resists" [5 each]
9. "Ectoplasm" (published by Storyglossia), "A Loaf of Bread for the Family" [4 each]

The list is somewhat puzzling, since I feel (perhaps myopically) that "Mahalia", "Mercy Day" and "The Way Business Is Done" are probably the three best stories I've written. Then again, maybe thinking of them so highly has prompted me to aggressively submit them to as many journals as possible (usually several simultaneously) which inevitably leads to a higher number of rejections. Or maybe they're not actually as good as I've lead myself to believe.

I suppose it all comes down to the vagaries of an editor's tastes, or what mood an editor (or intern) happens to be at the very moment that my story arrives. Or, as the renowned philosopher Gordon Gano once observed, albeit in an entirely different context, I guess it's something to do with luck.

Not that I'm complaining, mind you--I'm quite pleased with the stories I've managed to publish so far, and I'm confident that these other orphans will find a home eventually. I'm fully aware of the considerable odds I face in trying to get published in literary journals. Comes with the territory.

June 26, 2006 in Fiction | Permalink


You should count only acceptances!

Posted by: Richard at Jun 26, 2006 3:26:55 PM

See, you need to use a submission tracking method that doesn't let you do that kind of math. Talk about negative milestones!

Also, good luck with "Mahalia"-- I'm sure you're occasionally discouraged about the story, but my guess is that you've aimed high with it too, since you consider it one of your best. Keep at it.

Posted by: Matt at Jun 26, 2006 11:45:20 PM

Indeed, counting acceptances is much easier. But acknowledging the rejections keeps me humble.

Posted by: Pete at Jun 27, 2006 8:51:32 AM

I stopped after the first thousand.

Posted by: Richard at Jun 27, 2006 7:24:01 PM

I once submitted a story of mine, an O'Henry finalist (originally published in the '60s), to a student's online startup webzine. Just an experiment...you know like the urban legend of the bloke who submitted the first 100 pages to War and Peace to dozens of agents, all of them rejecting.

Needless to say, said story was rejected. No hard feelings, but I failed the student anyway.

Keep at it young P.


Posted by: BT at Jun 28, 2006 4:01:28 PM

Richard, I'll definitely be permanently humble by one thousand rejections. Perhaps despondently so.

Posted by: Pete at Jun 29, 2006 7:58:27 AM