Being published may not be the number one reason most writers write, but it’s way up there for me.
My friend, Freeda Nichols, blogged this week about acceptance and rejection notices she had received (here’s her post) and it reminded me of some of mine.
One of the first, and fortunately one of the nicest rejections I ever received was from a check-out-stand slick that paid a reported $1500 for short fiction. I submitted a few times but never made it. However each rejection slip from them had a personal note of critique and encouragement.
One of the worst and rudest rejections is always nothing. Not a xeroxed form, not a post card, not an email, not a word. This treatment of aspiring writers is not usually from the big magazines with thousands of submissions in their slush pile. Small regional Mom-and-Pop publications are notorious for this behavior. They pay little or nothing for stories and attract many writers who submit just for the thrill of being published. We allow them to print our writing for free. The least they could do is be polite.
Of course the most thrilling acceptance is one that includes a check and a contract! I’ve had a few and it’s a real rush.
The worst acceptance I ever experienced was nothing … that’s right, not a word … until a friend who subscribed to that publication mentioned seeing my article. I knew up front that the publisher paid only in copies, so I emailed him and asked for mine. Nothing. That publisher never “paid” me. My clip book contains the torn out pages from a friend’s copy.
The strangest acceptance was from a national magazine that focuses on “reminiscences”. (wink wink) I sent them a story and a 1950 era picture of my dad and brothers installing a TV antenna on the roof of our house. About a year later I received a letter of apology, saying they would like to use my story. Would I either send the original picture or re-scan it to a higher resolution? I wrote back to say I would be happy for them to use the story but in the meantime I had published it on my blog. here. They still wanted it.
Long story short: The picture and article did appear almost two years after the original submission.
The highs of acceptance and the lows of rejection are part of a freelance writer’s life. The secret is to keep it all in perspective.