The Rejection Project

Woof howdie, was last year a tough one. We all have different hows and whys, but almost universally, last year pummelled us. We stumbled into the corner of 2021, like the underdog in the third act of a boxing movie, and no one was there to squirt water in our mouths and tell us we had one more round in us. Because maybe we don’t.

That said, I still want to write. I write for the same reason I clean my house (sometimes)—because my life makes more sense when I do.

I was cleaning my house last week when I came across a pile of papers from about 20 years ago. They were rejection slips from magazines and literary journals. I save all the paper. It’s a thing. I don’t question it too much. Most of these rejections fall into what I’ll call Writer 1.0. I was young. I was trying to write and share it with the world. I had some small success, along with lots and lots of rejection. It’s the nature of the thing. 95% of the responses the average writer gets are rejections. At the same time, my disabilities were kicking my ass, especially my cPTSD and my depression. I ended up hospitalized and survival became my main focus. I wrote as I could through all this, but in the end, there was a multi-decade gap where I knew I was a writer, but I couldn’t access publishing.

A few years ago, I hit Writer 2.0. The circumstances, some privilege, my persistence, the opportunities, they all came together. Now when people ask what I do, I say I’m a writer. I have another job I do that I enjoy, but I’m a writer first and foremost.

Still, writing last year was hard. Often impossible. I follow lots of writers and the struggle was ubiquitous. We couldn’t find the time, the motivation, the words. We were stuck.

The Rejection Project is my plan to un-stick. I’m going to create a piece to submit to every single place that has ever rejected me (that still exists). Why? Because it gives me a framework to create. Because even if a piece is rejected, I have something I created to add to my to-be-submitted pile. Because it’s funny. Because I like a goodly hunk of these markets. They do good work and publish the creations of folks I admire.

I also plan to share the journey here because why the heck not? I can think of no better way to approach 2022 than to turn rejection into creation. Join me if you’d like. Let me know how it goes. We can have some fun, pen some prose, and make it through to 2023, one rejection at a time.

2 thoughts on “The Rejection Project

  1. Oh yeah, there’s a beauty to collecting rejections instead of aiming for acceptances, because I feel that chasing the former actually gives us better chances of being accepted, ironically enough. Wishing you all the best on your journey, and I hope to join you as well!

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    • It’s also a way to re-examine the rejections and remind myself who asked me to submit again in the future. I think it can be so easy to take in the rejection and miss the request for more—or even direction on how to grow our craft. Thanks for the well wishes. I’m excited to get started.

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