|January 2021, Part 1
In the last two emails, we have covered the academic and non-academic job markets for writers. This month, we wish you the best on your job search as we turn our focus to our three-part series on publishing.
Up first in our three-part series on publishing is rejection, perhaps the most difficult yet inevitable part of submitting your work for publication. How do you navigate it? Survive it? How do you stay motivated, receive feedback, revise, and live to submit again? We have collected advice on how to wade through the trying times, as well as evidence of the harsh rejections received by some of our most beloved writers. If nothing else, it might ease the pain to know you’re in the best company.
In “Rejection! Everything You Always Wanted to Know (But Were Afraid to Ask),” episode 80 of AWP’s Podcast Series, David Baker, Jill Bialosky, MB Caschetta, Rob Spillman, and Melissa Stein make up a mixed group of top editors and emerging writers who join forces “to dish about exactly how submissions are evaluated, what it's like to rebuff so many labors of love, the mysterious hierarchy of rejection slips, whether and how the best work really gets published, tips to avoid surefire rejection—and how to maintain faith in your work and your voice even when rejections keep piling up.”
Romy Oltuski reminds us that when we are rejected, we are always in good company in "Famous Authors' Harshest Rejection Letters," published over at The Atlantic.
It can be said that in seeking publication, we are seeking reassurance—that our work is good, that others want to read it, that the impossible process of making a poem or a story or an essay is worth it. Below are a series of advice-column-style responses to young writers searching for that reassurance as their first publications remain elusive:
In "Letters to a Young Writer" over at Narrative, Robert Olen Butler writes to a graduate student at Columbia University’s School of the Arts who asks, “When does one revise, and when does one move on?”
Elisa Gabbert encourages “Rejects in Rejectsville” to reframe the way they view rejections because she asserts, “I know of no level of success where writers stop getting rejected (and stop at least occasionally feeling bummed about it).” Her letter appears in the Dear Blunt Instrument series over at Electric Literature.
You’ve likely read lots of advice about surviving MFA programs, but what skills must we sharpen to survive the rest of our writing lives? Asa Baber’s "Surviving Is the Best Revenge: Survival Skills for Writers" rings as true today as it did in 1983 when we first published it in The Writer’s Chronicle. First on his list of survival skills? How to handle rejection.
We will leave you this week with Donald Hall’s “The Last Word: On Rejection & Resurrection,” in which he reflects on the pain of rejection and the meaning of acceptance in view of the whole of a writer’s career and the longevity (or brevity) of fame.
See you in our next email, in which we take on the varieties of paths to publication and discovering which venues and publishers are right for you.
Communications Coordinator & Membership Assistant