Do you remember your first? Acceptance/Rejection, that is…

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One of my major sources of inspiration as I was retooling my blog and website was taking a workshop on social media for writers from writing and editing powerhouse and truly lovely person Angela Palm. She had a ton of ideas I incorporated, and along the way also suggested some possible blog post topics once the site was once again ready for weekly positing. One of her suggestions that particularly struck my fancy was collecting stories from my fellow writers about their first literary acceptances and first rejections. Because we’re all in this struggle together, and some perspective always helps!

Let’s start with the gory side. I always knew I should be a writer, but I lacked the confidence to really latch on to this dream and follow through. Still, it rattled inside me. Thus, my Junior year at Berkeley, even as a seemingly cut-and-dried Political Science major, I found myself taking a poetry writing seminar. Encouraged by the weekly feedback in the class, I ended up submitting a batch of poems to a campus literary magazine, whose name I can’t even recall. I do recall scanning the acceptance announcements (in those days a literal piece of paper tacked up on a bulletin board) when they were posted. My name, alas, wasn’t there. And I rallied by…not submitting anything else, anywhere, for the next 15 years. Sometimes a plant has roots too shallow to bloom.

The idea never fully left me, though. Through years of graduate school, diving in to the turbulent world of international business, going down in addiction and washing up in recovery, marriage and divorce, I continued to scratch out poems and stories in my journals from time to time. Finally, in 2003, freshly into post-marital separation, I came back to what I had always know. I started taking writing workshops again, going to readings, and writing regularly, no matter what. One of my delights in this early period of returning to writing was stumbling across the darkling wonderful true tales of the unseemly and strange that Loren Rhoads was publishing in her magazine Morbid Curiosity. These were the kinds of stories i wanted to hear about, and to tell. And so, in 2004, I submitted my true tale “Kissing Girls in the Dark” to her, which I was delighted to learn was accepted. It came out in 2005. Morbid Curiosity is now sadly defunct, but you can read the story here. You shouldn’t stop there, either- Loren has put out an excellent collection of some of the highlights from the magazine over the years, Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues, and has several fiction and nonfiction works of her own you should check out.

My subsequent record has faded a bit from my initial 100% acceptance rate. It also took me a few years to get sufficiently tooled up to be as disciplined about regular submission as I was about regular writing. But I’m glad I did, because that’s the price of admission. For every acceptance for publication, there’s a rejection. Or ten. Or a hundred. (In my case, about a 6%-7% acceptance rate over several hundred submissions, so far.) Which is why, in retrospect, I’ve come to really appreciate my first experience of each.

So that’s me. I’d love to hear your story!

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