Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What a Lovely Rejection

Because I am a writer, perpetually single, and am frequently unemployed, I know a thing or two about rejection.

I do not say this to get people to feel sorry for me, just to say that not all rejections are equal.

One afternoon last week I went to the North Star Cafe, an excellent place to eat and be (I am frequently on their couch writing or reading.) On a whim, I filled out an application and had a conversation with an assitant manager. I'd talked myself into thinking this would be a good option for me, partially becuase they have offer insurance for anyone working over 25 hours and, well, the people there look pretty happy.

Yesterday I received a very nice rejection letter in the mail. Although it was a form letter, it was thoughtfully composed and reflected the feeling of passion I get whenever I eat there. Instead of staying in that weird limbo of did that woman even give my application to a manager... I am now able to move forward. I realize I have never had any real interest in working in food service, that my impulse was based on a frustration/desperation combo in my job search and an exhuberance for this organization.

My point is, even in their rejection, North Star continued to deepen my respect for what they are trying to do. And they included a coupon for a free meal. How classy is that?

I've had experiences like this as a writer as well. It is common for writers at the beginning of their careers, to submit to literary journals. These places publish unknown work and the credits earned at such a place are a legitimate stepping stone. These places are also notoriously flooded with submissions and understaffed. We all understand this. However, the magazines that make an effort to go beyond this fact, that at least attempt to remind a potential reader (ie, me) that they are enthusiastic about producing a quality publication, get my full-on support. A new, online magazine http://www.narrativemagazine.com/ sent me, perhaps the most inspiring rejection letter ever. It's made me link to them and visit often (and really want to be included.)

What irks the hell out of me is getting a two-and-a-half inch by four-inch slip of paper that has been sloppily cut with a paper cutter that says nothing more than We cannot accept your work.
This is not to say that I do not accept the general nature of rejection. When boiled down, all levels of rejection are little more than a negotiation of want (predicated, of course, on an infinite number of variables...)

So what do I want? I don't expect a free meal with every submission, but a whole freaking piece of paper (especially when it comes in an envelope and postage I'm suppling) is not too much to ask.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more! I've experienced both the "two-and-a-half inch by four inch slips of paper" and very personalized rejections, and the latter is definitely appreciated. One rejection I received from "Conclave" last year was so encouraging that it made me think, "Wow, my writing really is good!" They told me they thought the piece was very well written, but that it kind of "glossed over" an event at the center of it. They also - quite specifically - said, "Keep writing and send us more." Now, that's a nice rejection.

    And yeah, you don't want to work in the food service industry. You are a writer and that's what we all need you to continue to do.