Laughing at Rejection

Normally I take a rejection with humility and understanding. If a short story was rejected and the editors offered some objective criticism, I will humbly accept their advice. If a poem was rejected because it does not fit the aesthetic of a magazine, I can understand. All writers are rejected at some point. Most suffer from streams of rejections. It is a part of the business. A part that I willingly accept.

With that out in the open, I would like to mention that I received a rejection that made me howl with laughter.  Never have I laughed at a rejection letter. A rejection is not meant to do something so ludicrous. You are suppose to experience a sting to your pride and move on.

Look at it this way. Would you laugh if the person whom you just asked out on a date said no? Would you laugh if the bank said no to your request for a loan? Would you laugh if your family rejected your presence?
At this point, you must be dying to know why I did. Well, it was stated in this particular rejection letter that I was not to be published in this magazine, which I will leave unnamed for ethical and lawful reasons, because my poem was too philosophical. Literally, it is stated in this letter that my poem’s philosophical and personal reflections was too much. The editors said it was enjoyable, but had too many layers and subtleties that would not fit with their magazine. Who would have guessed it?
God bless,



81 thoughts on “Laughing at Rejection”

  1. Thanks for liking my post, Katherine. I didn’t have the same experience as you, but I did submit a couple of poems I thought were really good and got them rejected, probably for similar reasons, though the rejection wasn’t as memorable. Good luck.

    Allen Starbuck

    1. Just keep submitting those poems to various magazines. Something has to turn up. From my own experiences, editors are very subjective. You just need to find the right editor. If you keep at it, you might get your own memorable rejection or, as all writers prefer, a publication!

  2. Hi Katherine
    I love this blog. I would have laughed too and it’s great that you did. It reminds me of the best ever ‘No thanks’ email I got for a job I had applied for. It was so upbeat about my skills and experience and explained why they gave it to someone else (who was actually way more suited to the post than me because of their overseas experience and a great find for the organisation too), that I just had to write back and thank them for it. It was such a well written, thoughtful email saying no thanks.
    Keep up the great writing Katherine.
    PS – thanks for visiting my blog too.

    1. Perhaps God was saying that job was not meant for you. I am certain you found a job that was much more exciting and suitable for you. I find that the universe works in strange ways. As to that rejection letter, the poem remains unpublished. However, I have high hopes for this one magazine that it has been submitted to. (I’ll never stop writing!) I wish you all the best! 🙂

  3. I’ve had same reactions on my blog.Whenever I get too philosophical in my writings,I have much less viewers,but if I write something light,short and easy,I get more responses.I’m glad you found my blog so I could get on yours.Keep posting!

    1. I try to mix it up on my blog. There are some more philosophical and tragic pieces, like my short story “The Lost Colony,” and then there are lighter stories, such as “Couldn’t Beat Howard.” I aim to please everyone. 🙂

  4. Thanks for finding my blog so that I could find yours. I am writing a children’s book that I hope to self-publish in the near future. A magazine that does not want anything intelligent in it??? So many choices………….

    1. I wish you success with your children’s book. It was just the one magazine. I might be over optimistic when I say this, but I still believe that there are magazines that want intelligent work…I hope. 🙂

  5. Thank you for your interest in my blog.

    “…my poem was too philosophical.”

    All the times I have received a bare rejection or no response at all now make sense. They were so overwhelmed with universal truths that their linguistic centre shut down. 🙂

  6. I’ve written for quite a few years and have had many individual poems published, but I don’t send many things out on a grand scale. I was surprised to read your comment that poems posted on our blogs are considered published and would be therefore rejected by many publishers. I like instant feedback and recognition ! LOL I hate to sit on a poem that long, as some publishers might take months to respond. So, that’s a little discouraging. It’s hard to hope for a book deal for poems anyway. Unless you’re an established singer or actor ( like Johnny Depp or Ryan Adams ), poetry is just not a big seller. At least not in America. I get far more responses to my poetry from countries like India, Italy, and France than I do from America. Writing, to most Americans, is thought of in terms as 140 characters or less and damn the spelling. Just use slang/ shorthand and emoticons ! 🙂 I very much appreciate your liking my poem and taking the time to let me know, Katherine. You are extremely talented and I certainly respect your opinion. Have a nice evening !….Jeffrey Littrell

    1. Most publishers want poems that have not been put on display, this often includes blogs and personal websites. Unpublished normally means having not appeared in print or online. This is the norm for most publishers, but some will make an acception. It is wise to read the guidelines for each individual magazine and publisher. There are other magazines who will republish your work, but recognize the first time publication was on your blog or website. This is the case with my short story, “Couldn’t Beat Howard,” which will be republished in The Rusty Nail. God bless.

  7. Well, I admit, I did laugh at the first guy to ever try to kiss me, but I’m sure that doesn’t really count. I feel for you… I had the same reaction when my son called to tell me that the public school he taught at for 2 years, had decided not to renew his contract for this (12-13) year because he was “Too intellectual”… LOL. I never laughed so hard. He didn’t want to go back anyway cuz he had to drive over an hour each way, but to tell a HS teacher who is suppose to be teaching AP classes he is too intellectual. Boggles the mind, just like your situation… his students were too dumb to learn what he was teaching… I guess that is cuz he had more pass the end of the year test than the last 4 years combined…LOL We live in the South so it’s nothing like the teaching I see on the news.

    1. I live further North. The high schools near where I live would kill for someone as intelligent as your son! I am surprised. I never heard of a school who didn’t want someone because of their intellect… We live in a crazy world! I am certain he found another school willing to take him.

  8. So, let me get this straight. The publishers of the magazine suggested (look at me, using the principe of charity…let me take that back…they are saying explicitly) that their readers are too dense to appreciate a philosophically sophisticate poem. They’re probably right. I just don’t think they should admit it!

  9. I’m still mad the New Yorker only accepts online submissions and sends an email rejection. I so wanted that note/postcard up on my wall. “Fail again. Fail better.”

    1. I sent to the New Yorker once. The email reply felt so impersonal and uncomfortable. I see what you mean by wanting a more personal response to frame.Then, you would have bragging rights.

  10. I recently had a similar experience where the editor of a small press seemed to not grasp the basics of a genre I was working in and pointed out all the things that made him uncomfortable that were deliberate authorial choices I’d made. I laughed and laughed. Good times.

    1. Ha! Rejection letters should rarely bring a person down. Editors seem to choose material based on their preferences and make decisions based on their knowledge. I truly believe that much of it is subjective, such as the editor you dealt with. He was not experienced with the genre you were writing in, while another editor might find your work brilliant. Whatever happened to your manuscript?

  11. Oh, I know about rejection! Once my painting was rejected for a show because it was “too pretty” or something like that. Just . . . what? I still haven’t sent anything off for publishing because it is never ready and I am a coward. 🙂

  12. Interesting, I was in a short story writing class many years ago and was told in no uncertain terms that I was not to end the story without a “Happy Ending”, my story was too depressing. Well, it had a point to why it ended on a sad note, it was not without hope, but it was about making a choice and I chose to illustrate my point in a particular way that met with disapproval. I decided that classes were not for me at that point in time. It is artistic freedom that we exercise everyday when we create. Thanks for liking my blog and all the best with your future as a writer! You are one already! I have never had my experimental poetry published, however i am doing that right here on Word Press!

    1. I like writing groups as long as there are no rules to limit your creativity. Writing should not be censored! Even if it is just for a class! Keep trying with the experimental poetry. There is a market for it. Good luck!

  13. I have been collecting rejection slips since 1968 until I decided to reject traditional publishing and go indie in 2007 so I know the feeling.

    However, I don’t recall ever laughing at one of those many rejection slips but I did have a few that made me feel good (personal notes encouraging me to keep writing) and a few rejections that arrived after an editorial decision that came close to a contract then shifted into reverse without much warning after months and sometimes more than a year of consideration and negotiation that sometimes led to rewrites.

  14. Reblogged this on allaboutwordswa and commented:
    Congratulations Katherine! You are the 10 000th visitor to my blog. I hope that other readers will enjoy your post today 🙂
    PS thank you to all readers of my blog

  15. i have been reading a lot about ebooks etc. def a consideration- i would love to read some – always wanted to read for a living … give me some true free experience … press on !!!

  16. Katherine,
    I wish you all luck and success! My agent (took an eterinity to get one, and then only with dumn luck) and I are currently exploring various outlets for my novels. Having options is a nice thing to have. My wish for you is that you will be able to experience this also. Never give up. Keep writing.

    1. I say we all boycott the magazine! Lol. I am kidding. The magazine must have a different style and theme that my poem just didn’t match. At least it gave me a good laugh.

  17. WOW, I would probably have laughed as well. Afterall, that is one huge compliment, in my view. I don’t know if to say “congrats” or “it happens to the best of us”. 😀

    1. I am not sure what you can say to such a rejection. I am not sure if laughing is the typical reaction to such a letter, but that is what I did. I’ll take a congratulations. 🙂

    2. I would say both: Congrats; it happens to the best of us. Over the years I have gotten enough funny, weird, or just screwball rejection letters to make into a book all their own. Were I you, Katherine, I’d take it as a badge of truly being an Artist.

    3. Ha! I only like to look back at the letters as a reminder of what I am, a writer. Maybe if a few writers got to together to put together a compilation of rejection letters, a book could be possible.

  18. That is stupid! I think the best thing about a poem is that it honestly reflects the poet’s thoughts with clarity.The personal reflections make poems special bcoz so many ppl can connect to it. That’s what is most attractive about a poem.
    I know a genuine publishing house will definitely publish your stories and poems.
    My best wishes always!

    1. Too many published poems now adays are degrated scribblings. I have seen some brilliant work, but I have seen even more that are not worthy to be seen. Of course, the cream of the crop always rise. I just hope I am the cream!

    1. The poem is still unpublished. I would post it on my blog, but then it would be considered published since it can be seen by others through my personal blog. Since I want to publish the poem, and most magazines only accept unpublished poems, I cannot post it. However, if I can get it published somewhere, I will provide a link for everyone. That might take a while. I can tell you that the poem is based on a Greek myth in which a forlorn character frees herself from love. That is just a vague outline of the poem, and something that I did not find very philosophical. However, the magazine I sent it to did. 🙂

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