Monday, October 1, 2012


Good morning, gentle readers, and welcome to October. Today, I would like to share the following electronic missive I received a few days ago.


Dear Mr. Shirer,

Thanks so much for submitting to, and for your extreme patience while we evaluated your story. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that "The Passing of the World" isn't quite right for us. I wish you the best of luck placing it elsewhere.

Please send us more of your stories in the future. We've recently restructured, and if all goes as planned, we will soon have much better response times!

Best, Submissions Staff


Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is a rejection letter. I present it here, unchanged except for the name of the website, for your perusal.

As rejection letters go, this one is actually quite nice. I suspect, although I cannot prove it, that it was written by an actual person and not spat out by a computer. In the end though, it doesn’t really matter who or what wrote it.

I have been rejected.


Gentle readers, if you wish to pursue a career as a writer, you should get used to rejection. It happens quite a lot. You may enter the profession with skin as soft as a darling newborn baby’s, but after a while, your hide will be as tough as an elephant’s.

Still, rejection hurts at first. Whether its from that really cute girl you screwed up the courage to actually ask out only to be laughed at, or from the super-cool job that you applied for and that you just new you were put on this Earth to do.

Getting used to rejection is a bit like getting whipped for the first time. The anticipation of the first blow is usually worse than the blow itself. Then they start to fall at a regular pace upon your back and there isn’t any pain, just sensation. Eventually, you may even start to look forward to the next blow.

However, I am not here today to encourage you to accept rejection or even recreational flagellation. No, ladies and gentlemen, I am here today to tell you what not to do when you get those rejection letters.

Do not throw yourself out the window in a fit of despair, crying, "My art! My art!" No one likes a drama queen. Also, it would be extremely inconsiderate to leave your mess for someone else to clean up. Replacing windows is expensive. Glass isn’t cheap, y’know.

If you feel you must do this, just to get it out of your system, be sensible. Choose a first floor window. Arrange some pillows or a mattress outside your chosen window to land upon. Also, and this is very important, open the window and remove any obstructions before hurling yourself through it. Afterwards, when you’ve dusted yourself off and recovered your senses, don’t forget to clean the pillows and replace the screens.

Do not turn to drink. If you are not already an alcoholic, drinking after literary rejection will turn you into one. Do your liver a favor and avoid the booze.

Do not turn to illicit drugs. Drug use is a slippery slope. Sure, there’s a long tradition of writers using drugs - Hunter S. Thompson and William S. Burroughs are the first to leap to mind - but you are not them. Most likely, you will not be lauded for your ability to string two sentences together while tripping out on LSD and/or peyote. Most likely you will become a junkie and eventually wind up muling cocaine in your butt to pay off a massive drug debt, coming to an ignoble end while crossing the border. Just say "No!"

Don’t try to forget your woes with sex. If you aren’t in a committed relationship, you’ll run the risk of catching a venereal disease. The only people who find weepy authors sexy are not people you want to go home with.

If you are in a committed relationship, your partner will recognize the look in your eye and run like hell in the other direction. In a relationship, there is only so much pity-sex someone can provide before that well of sympathy runs dry.

Don’t masturbate either. You’ll just make yourself sore.

Do not eat to fill the gaping hole left by the rejection. It won’t do any good and you’ll wind up gaining, like, a thousand pounds and eventually wind up being airlifted out of your house by a helicopter. You may even be subjected to visits from people like (shudder) Richard Simmons and Oprah Winfrey. Even if you’re writing something on weight-loss and this is part of your byzantine marketing strategy, it isn’t worth it!

Do not wallow in despair. Really! Pull up your socks and just get on with life. So someone didn’t like your submission. Big fat deal. Send it to someone else.

It’s like oysters. I absolutely loathe oysters. To me, oysters look like something that fell out of an ox’s nose. Lots of other people, though, love oysters. It’s just a matter of taste.

Do not give up. Someone rejected your story? Big deal. Screw ‘em. Take that rejection letter and stick it on the dart board. Pick up dog poo with it. Or, better yet, use it as inspiration for an amusing blog post that has really gone on for far too long.

In short, just shrug off the rejections and get back to writing and admiring your elephant-like hide.

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