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MFA in Writing at Vermont College

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Long Term Memory

             Watching the baseball game last night I heard the announcer comment during a pitching change that the relief pitcher “better have a short memory.” He was referring to not letting the three run homer the pitcher gave up the night before affect his performance in tonight’s game.
 I have learned that if I want to be a writer I “better have a long memory.”
             Yesterday, I received the much too familiar, large manila envelope in my mailbox. This of course signaled yet another rejection.  There is nothing more depressing than receiving a rejection slip in an envelope you helped fill out.
              I sliced open the envelope and read the letter.  Thank you for your submission.  We receive a large volume of manuscripts per year and can publish only a small few. Not what we are looking for at the moment.
              Translation: Stop bothering us.  Your story is a bunch of hog manure. 
              I placed the letter on top of the overflowing box of rejections at my feet, put my hands on my head and sat back to do a little self talk. I believe all struggling writers must get good at this talk.
              That is when it dawned on me…  I had just received a rejection slip but had not submitted that particular story in years. 
              I sprang to the edge of my seat and opened up the spreadsheet I use to track my submissions.  I scanned down the list looking for this specific publisher.  I had to scan pretty far down the list because it had been 18 months since I had sent out that manuscript.
              Let me put that in perspective for a moment... it took me one and a half years or 570 days to get rejected.  Phileas Fogg could have circled the world seven times in that timeframe.
              Since I sent out that manuscript here is a list of things that have happened:
·         Chilean miners saved after 69 days
·         The president of Honduras was overthrown in a coup
·         The H1N1 virus took over the country
·         We found water on the moon
·         Humans trapped antimatter
·         And Pepsi changed its logo
  I read that a writer receives an average of forty rejections to every published story.  Let’s for a moment pretend these odds are correct.  At my current rate I will be… let me figure this out a moment… hold on… bear with me, I’m a writer not a mathematician… okay I got it… I will be 97 by the time I publish my first story.
              I will be reading my first published novel from my nursing home bed while sipping a nice plastic glass of prune juice. Someone who is born tomorrow could read my first book on the day they retire. 
              Where is the nearest bridge?  Someone stop me.  A year and a half to get rejected!  My mother would have the National Guard on my case if it took me a year and a half to return her phone call.  I would be in prison if it took me that long to pay my taxes. 
              I need help.  I need counseling.  I think I may be hyperventilating.  Why did I choose this profession?  Catch me… I am about to faint.


  1. Jeff you are hilarious! And I'm sure you will be published before you become addicted to prune juice!

    Here's a post on my blog with some fun stats of all the rejections famous authors got before their big books were published: http://ingridsnotes.wordpress.com/2010/08/29/rejection-rocks/

    Love your blog! Keep at it!

  2. The best part of it is that we're all in this together. Keep at it, bud. Your stuff is hilarious.

  3. Hey Jeff,

    I've got you beat. I once got a rejection letter after 2 years-that's right 24 months. I did get an apology from the publisher though.

    I've been writing part time for about 4 or so years. I'm an environmental engineer trying to "break %$#@#" into children's writing. It's tough and there's a lot of competition.

    I'm a member of SCBWI,and have been for about four years.

    If you get a chance, check out my writing blog entitled Brianwoods. I've been in a bit of a writing funk lately.