Put The Hankie Away

Published July 30, 2013 by M E McMahon


Yesterday, I opened my email and was delighted to find a response from one of the publishers I had submitted a short story to.  I had waited months to hear from them so I eagerly opened the email and read their missive, only to discover I had received my first rejection letter.

Wow, the pain…the dissappointment…the gall of these people to turn me down! My feelings are hurt! I worked so hard on that story…how could they not want it?

Yes, my friends, rejection letters can bring out the worst in us as writers.  Some of us tend to take it personal and we bring out all those insecurities that kept us from writing or submitting our work for so long.  Some get angry and stuff their stories back in the drawer and resolve never to embarrass themselves again.

Others, like myself, will take a few moments to wallow in self-pity, dry our tears and then put the hankie away.  We move on, we continue to write and we continue to submit our stories.  Because, it is a fact of life that all writers will experience the pain of receiving a rejection letter.  And, in the end, some rejection letters can be turned into a learning experience for the new writer.

After wringing out the hankie, I retraced my steps and went back to who, how and when I submitted this story.  It was one of the first submissions I made and after checking out the publisher, they were right.  Their magazine was not the right home for my story.  I hadn’t done my research prior to submitting the story and I was now holding the end result, a rejection letter.

Of course, lack of research is not the only reason I’ll ever get a rejection letter.  There are so many reasons for a publisher to give my stories a thumbs down…such as: they aren’t currently looking for my type of story, they have too many stories that are carrying the same theme or they just didn’t connect with the story itself.  That’s life in the publishing world and as hard as it is for writers to accept it, that’s the way it is.

I went back to the story I submitted and reread it and double checked it…I wanted to make sure I had dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s.  It was in good shape and I still liked the story…so, I jumped on to Duotrope and researched a few more publishers.  I found a few that I felt might be more receptive to my story and before I could lose my nerve, I submitted to them.  And, if they all reject my story, I’ll find a few more publishers and I’ll submit my work to them.

Persistence is so important in the publishing world, much as it is in life.  You can’t give up…if you believe your story is good, get out there and find a publisher who agrees.

What did I do with my first rejection letter?  I printed it out and it is now on my Milestone Page along with the stories that did get published.  Why?  Because, it is a rite of passage in my journey down the road to being a successful writer and it deserves it’s place in my Milestone page.  There will be others in my future, but I’m never going to let that stop me.  I’ll keep on writing and keep on submitting my stories.

For, I am a writer and that’s what writer’s do! So, there! 🙂

Yours In Writing,

M E McMahon


22 comments on “Put The Hankie Away

  • Ugh. The first one is SO HARD!!!!!!!! I cried. It was a lot like the first time someone helped me with my revisions. Each time you put yourself out there you learn people will have something to say about it. KILLED ME.

    Keep trucking! You can do it!


    • Thanks for the support and the visit. I’m not too upset about it since I know that many more will come in the future (not too many, I hope) and at least this way, I’ve gotten the first one out of the way!


      • It is a right of passage in a sense. I’ve been rejected so many times now that it doesn’t even phase me. You just know that you were close but you two weren’t meant to be together… for now.

        Best of luck on your journey!!! Great to meet you! Feel free to stop by Craplandia. I’m new to WordPress and would love to have you!


  • It is always a pleasure to read your blogs. You have a strong will, a very good way of getting straight to the point and – yes – that being said by a complete stranger in another country, I would like to thank you for courageously sharing. I ran into a website a couple of days ago, after reading this post I decided to post you the link – All about many authors journey to success – don´t know if you´ve read Literary Rejections but here it is: http://www.literaryrejections.com/

    Good luck in all your affairs!


  • Rejection is hard to stomach. Especially rejections for novels or novellas. Sometimes they just reject an author solely based on a query letter. I hate that and think it’s so unfair. But, ’tis part of our business I guess. Thanks to self publishing though, some of us have a better chance.


    • Well, believe it or not, rejection doesn’t bother as much as I thought it would. Sure, I’m disappointed, but rejection letters are inevitable and at least I have the first one under my belt!


  • I agree – rejection is a rite of passage and an inevitable part of the writing life. I received my first rejection letter a few weeks back. I knew I was taking a risk submitting to this particular e-zine, but I thought “what the heck.” They can’t accept it if I don’t submit in the first place, right? Well, I received a rejection the very next day. Fortunately, the email was polite and confirmed what I already knew — the story wasn’t quite right for them. But the publisher said he liked my style and encouraged me to submit again in the future. Made my day.


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