The Losing Game: Notes from the Rejection Pile
It was 2015 when I first started sharing my writing rejections with the world. It wasn't my idea. A poet friend of mine in the states was sharing his, and it quickly became the best thing happening in my facebook feed. What hooked me wasn't the schadenfreude or courage it took him to make his failures public: it was the incredible number of times he had submitted his poems that year. I had submitted something like 4 times in 2014, and it was a step up from the year before. Well fuck, I thought. I'm not doing the work. Not the way some [aspiring] writers are. At first I rationalized. There are more lit journals in the states, I said, so one can definitely submit more places. And those lit journals have much shorter response times than their Canadian counterparts. The thing is, those things are true, to a point, but so what? Equally true was that I was not going for the thing I wanted like a cartoon bull enraged by a matador, or the creepy guy at my regular bar who keeps offering me drinks. So I started posting my rejections, and my acceptances. In 2015, I received 18 rejections, 2 acceptances, and 1 longlist acknowledgement that did not end up being published anywhere. In my second year, 2016, I got more consistent. I received 20 rejections, 3 acceptances, and had 12 submissions I would hear from 2017. 2017 is almost over. The metrics are not finalized. Like all cynics, I am nothing if not a tiny, brittle packet of hope wrapped in layers of defensive humor, and that tiny brittle packet of hope is thinking I could still have more news in the next week. I have submitted more this year than ever before, and received more acceptances than in any previous year. This project has made me feel celebrated, commiserated with, and useful to my community of writers and artists. The feedback I have received almost feels better than the acceptances, and having something productive to do with the rejections makes them feel almost good. In 2018, you can follow my progress (or lowgress, depending on the stretch,) here. Come for the sweat and the ugliness. Come for the support. Come to feed your superiority, if you need to, come to reminisce about a time you were less successful than you are now, come if you need to see the struggle of the game, come if you need hope for yourself. I promise to gift wrap it nicely for you.