for a moment of joy or moments no one pays for, i give myself a ‘jornal’. this makes me rich. try it.

rejection notes (sharing a personal essay with Sanjukta)

I’d like to share this personal essay I once wrote after receiving yet another rejection note; more had come and I expect nine out of ten submissions will keep coming. You would understand why it’s melodramatic. But that feeling has not swept me over since. When I do receive one these days, I simply put away the poem, haiku or tanka, rewrite and submit to another editor. A few of these have been accepted and published. Here’s the essay:

Why must rejection wring the mind so?

These words marching onto this blank screen leaked off a bottle of emotions I had dammed. It’s been a week ago since a rejection note sneaked into my inbox—a single line in bold letters; it’s not the first, but the latest of ten I have received so far. Reading the note then, I felt sand in my eyes, pain that brings on tears. First, they stung and then creeping down my cheeks, they felt cold as a blade. I could be bleeding, I thought, but not from an invisible cut on my cheeks–it must be in my shattered heart.

Why must words of rejection wring the mind so? I had long struggled to understand. No matter how cavalier I talk of my writing, rejection feels like death for me at times. It must be during those times when I wrote too hard and too long so much so that an illusion of perfection shrouded me and darkened that fragile cave—my heart—from which I always imagine I write.

From what do words get birthed anyway? This has always been a mystery to me akin to my search for God. But this I believe in, the universe came to be out of nothing because God so decreed it with words.

I am a being out of nothing. Hence, my words leap onto a screen from the void. Why then must rejection affect me so? I and what words I string together as soon as they slip into some kind of form should turn into objects like asteroids, for one, flinging through the universe. I, who worked on it and that which they have birthed into, should no longer bear any of me.

And yet, complex as is my tiny mind, it also bloats with greed and feels as if words it has put into shape become the universe. How dare then, does anyone reject them?

But in the end, I am grateful for each rejection; it shoves me back into place. The eye does not see the self in whole, only in parts; rejection really hurts only in part. As in every object in the universe, other parts of me that have been spared soon take over and begin to birth again.


November 25, 2011 - Posted by | personal essay, poetry, reflection | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. //But in the end, I am grateful for each rejection…//

    Yes, good to tell ourselves so, but I don’t believe you. 😉

    I write in genres other than poetry, and when I’m rejected, it’s like water off a duck’s back. But poetry? I don’t take rejection well at all. In fact, I take rejection so poorly that I no longer submit poetry. I know myself. I publish my poetry at my own website and leave it at that. If I have a reason to be grateful for rejection, it’s that it spurred me to create a blog, to write about poetry, and to ‘publish’ my poetry there. As it is, I think my poetry is exposed to more readers than if they had been accepted in a dozen publications.

    I think it’s ok to be miffed. You wouldn’t be human, otherwise. And why not?

    Comment by upinvermont | November 26, 2011 | Reply

    • Patrick, how delightful to find your long missed words here!!! Hehe…you know me too well. True, what you think (I love that emoticon), I still feel a ‘stabbing pain’ but it’s not as bad as it used to.

      Well, thanks to the rejection notes that came your way or I wouldn’t have met you. By the way, I love your last haiku but I haven’t had time to leave a comment; I wish I can be content to write a single word of admiration.

      Your site remains an oasis for classical poetry in the web where “poetry” has since proliferated. I read your discussions avidly and faithfully to this day. But I’ve become too engaged and determined to pursue how to write haiku that works, leaving little time or focus for much else. But I hope to become ‘normal’ again soon and roam the other spheres I’m missing such as ‘upinvermont’ once more.

      But please do stay with me. I value your support and feel honored by your visit any time.

      Thanks again!

      Comment by alee9 | November 27, 2011 | Reply

  2. //But I’ve become too engaged and determined to pursue how to write haiku that works, leaving little time or focus for much else. //

    We all get swept up in our own projects. Don’t feel guilty. 🙂 I still get all your posts by E-Mail.

    Comment by upinvermont | November 27, 2011 | Reply

    • Thank you for absolving me, Patrick.

      By the way, did you know that I’ve been trying to compose a sonnet sort of imitating what you once wrote set in a parlor that I imagined was on 5th Ave in Manhattan? But I just can’t seem to follow though I’m still working on it. I could ask you for a simpler lesson but when I read your analysis I think it’s all there. Is it just my inner structure the collapses into bits and pieces of no rhyme and reason?

      Thanks again for sharing your wonderful ‘obsession’!

      Comment by alee9 | November 28, 2011 | Reply

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