After my “On Lice” essay received notification of rejection from the journal I sent it to back in August, yeah, I was disappointed for about a day. Let down.
Not personally hurt, though, or even stung. By the next day, my feelings had turned into exasperation, like Grace’s here.
Who has time for being rejected? Not me.
Being rejected is totally impractical. It means that one has to try again, at an activity — seeking prospects, and preparing the manuscript for submission — that adds on time to the time it took to write the thing. And, therefore, it takes time away from other things I might do.
On Friday I was determined to put the essay in the mail, again, and get on to the next projects: I have two essays near done, and one that’s only beginning but has captured my fascination, and I have three weeks of winter vacation left. Classes start Feb. 4, with a little prep to do before that. In March, I’m making a presentation at a conference in San Francisco, and I could get a jump on that.
I went to NewPages and read the reviews of literary magazines, keeping in mind Alex Chee’s advice on finding places to publish one’s nonfiction. (Great post.) Yes, I keep my eye on the back pages of those Best American anthologies. I found the submissions guidelines for 10 possibilities, and then I looked even more deeply into those journals, reading parts of many essays and stories. I winnowed the list to three, asking myself two questions: (a) would my essay fit here? and (b) do I read, or would I read, this journal?
Each of the three had its own required manuscript format, so I reformatted my essay three ways. I sent out two. Friday ended, or, at least, the day reached dinner time. Tomorrow, Monday, I’ll send out to the third one, which requires hard copies, sent in the mail.
It wasn’t all busy work. I did find out that, after the ardor for one’s essay has cooled (and that can happen in five months time), it’s easy to cut 400 words, or about 10% of the total, from an essay. And I learned more about a few literary journals.
Soon, I’ll forget about the submissions, until someday it is time to be surprised, either pleasantly or un, by the responses from the journals.
Meanwhile, on to the next thing.