Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Best Rejection

You wouldn't believe it, really - especially if you're a writer - if I told you that last night, a rejection letter made my day.

But it did.

I sent in a creative non-fiction piece to Copper Nickel. Untrained in CNF for the most part, I expected flat rejection (and perhaps some snickering), but I quite liked the piece and thought I might get lucky. Last night, the generous editors of Copper Nickel sent me this rejection:

"We think this piece has potential and that it is relevant because of the many people searching for meaning and struggling with religion as an institution. Having said that, we don't think it is fully fleshed out and complete. It could use more. We hope that you will feel encouraged by this short note and send us something else, or a rewrite."

It gives me something to hang my hat on. It's not an acceptance, but it shouldn't have been - I'm a novice at this sort of writing and the piece needs work. But the fact that the editors actually encouraged me to work on it at greater length - or to send them something else! - was a very real boost to me. It proved they read my piece. It proved that the piece was salvageable with work, editing, and redrafting. (This is where I, and most other writers I know, insert the happy "I am not a failure" dance.) It proved I wasn't wasting my time. It reminded me of something I do occasionally forget: rejection and failure are not end-points. They are rest-stops where I can pause, take a closer look at what isn't working, and rethink things a bit.

So this morning, I am pleased with thinking that I don't have to stop writing CNF, I just need to get better at it.

It's the most encouraging rejection I've ever received.