The Rejection Binder

oh my god it's a sloth on a binder

oh my god it’s a sloth on a binder

Last week in my trusty old literary citizenship class, our topic was submitting stories to magazines. We read and talked about the pitfalls and ways to better your chances of success.

We also read and talked about rejection.

Because we have to. As writers, rejection is a part of life. Selling a few stories or a book doesn’t guarantee a “NO REJECTION” stamp on your cover letter. There will always be editors that don’t like your writing, slush pile readers having a bad day, and magazines that just aren’t the right fit for you. If you want to be a writer, get used to rejection.

I’m a young writer. I have a pretty small number of rejection letters at this point, because I haven’t sent out that many stories. To date, I have eight short story rejections and four rejected query letters (I sent them out in high school, and thankfully no one took me on. The book was shit, as first attempts at books often are, particularly when written by 16-year-olds). Hopefully, in the coming years, I’ll obtain many more rejection letters.

Wait, what?

Yeah. I’m hoping for more rejection letters. How else am I going to fill up my lovely rejection binder?

My majestic be-weaseled rejection binder.

My majestic be-weaseled rejection binder.

The idea of the rejection binder – that is, a binder that holds hard copies of all of my rejection letters – was introduced to me by David Barr Kirtley, an amazing writer, podcaster, and staffer at Alpha. When I started thinking about having my own, I messaged him and asked what his reasoning was for having a rejection binder. A few were practical:

You can use them to double-check where you’ve already submitted a particular story. You can also go back and look for patterns in the rejections that only become apparent over time.

A rejection binder can also keep your own writer angst in check:

Often I’ll have a story that I think everyone hated, but when I go back and look at the rejection letters, they’re not as bad as I remembered, which sometimes motivates me to go back and revise the story and send it out again.

But this is the reason that really stuck with me:

When you’re first starting out, it’s helpful to think of rejections as milestones. So it’s an accomplishment getting to 25, to 50, to 100, etc. That’s a lot more productive than looking at acceptances as an accomplishment, because you’re probably not going to have many/any of those. So the rejection letters are sort of like mementos of your progress.

I don’t want rejections to be so powerfully dreaded that they bury me. I’m going to get dozens of rejection letters, and I’d much rather celebrate them.

Thanks to my binder, you know what a rejection letter means to me? It means that I tried. I put this piece of my soul out there. I gave it to a stranger and asked them to consider showing it to other strangers. That’s hard! I cringe every time I hit “send” on a submission. Every time I get a rejection back, I can print it out, put it in my binder, and say, “Okay. Next market.”

no no no noThe rejection binder might not be for you. You might hate having a physical reminder of rejection hanging around. Maybe right now you’re shaking your head thinking, “Nope nope nope nope nope.” That’s totally okay!

But I hope that you’re intrigued. I hope you’re curious. I hope you go out, get a binder, customize a cover page, and start printing out rejection letters. If you do, you should totally send me some pictures. Let’s celebrate our rejections.

Oh, DBK did give me another reason, and this is obviously the most important:

You can use them to impress your writing students with how hardcore you are.

So hardcore.

What about you guys? How do you deal with rejection? Hit up the comments below.

Tuesday Reads: Up Jumps the Devil by Michael Poore

You know those books where you want to quote it every other page? Maybe tweet a few sentences or put it in a Facebook status just so the entire world can see it and maybe share your excitement over the words?

Up Jumps the Devil, Michael Poore‘s first novel, was one of those books for me.

And when he played the guitar it was like strangling Creation because no one ever, EVER had the blues like the Devil had the blues, and even if they thought they had the blues anywhere near as bad, when the Devil finally burned to a stop, covered in sweat and tears and Spanish moss, they were way too scared to say so.

I’up jumpsm a huge sucker for stories about the Devil. I want to see him as more than just horns and hellfire. Michael Poore’s Devil is a complex, funny, sweet, horrifying rebel angel and the world’s first broken heart. He wants mankind to be good and make Earth great so that his true love will come back from Heaven. His methods aren’t always nice. He can show mercy and he can be wrathful. He whispers into the ears of history’s great revolutionaries. He drives around in the JFK death limo and makes deals at crossroads.

Up Jumps the Devil is his story. It jumps through time, from before the Earth existed to Egypt to Rome to colonial America to the 70s and right up into 2005. That’s the range, but it’s not chronological. The book also isn’t told entirely from the Devil’s point of view – we get loads of others in the mix, characters that are joyfully, painfully human and have the Devil in their lives. This organization could have been a mess and lost the reader, but I followed it with ease.

This is the kind of book that you’re going to read and immediately throw at all of your friends, begging them to read it so that they can understand why cows make you laugh and why you’d happily go to hell if you could spend your time in the company of Poore’s Devil.

Medium: paperback

Stars: 4.5/5

March Awesomeness

titanic slothI wrote 6145 words in March. Man, I need to step it up. How about I start by giving you links to ten awesome things I found while obviously not writing in March? (In my defense, I totally read 15 books in March.)

This baby goat that seems to have a butt filled with helium.

This Tumblr dedicated to diversity in YA fiction.

This adorable Cthulhu.

This Lord of the Rings pun.

This hashtag fighting rape culture.

This adorable hippo before it becomes a vicious territorial killer hello I am Sarah and I am scared of hippos but man this is cute.

This totally accurate comic about what it’s like to be a writer of genre fiction.

This little girl’s awesome discovery.

This knitted knitting octopus.

This brilliant pizza box witchcraft.

Oh, and as a bonus, my gorgeous nephew turned one on March 28th.

What about you guys? Anything awesome happen in March? Did you write more than I did? Hit up the comments below.