Michelle Wittle On Rejections and Submissions


I get rejection letters all the time. Most of them
are the generic “thanks, but no thanks.” Before I went to grad school for my
MFA, I would have been crushed by a letter like that. I would take the impersonal
rejection letter as a complete failure on my part as a writer. I would assume
that cold rejection letter meant I should stop writing all together and find a
different creative outlet, like maybe needlepoint.

However, now I see that rejection letter for what it
really means. At this time, what I sent was not right for the current issue of
the magazine. It does not mean I should hang up my pen and grab some thread. I
shouldn’t toss my computer in the garbage or sell it on craigslist for
twenty-five bucks. The rejection letter means this piece isn’t what the
literary magazine is looking for right now.

I won’t resubmit the same piece later to the
magazine. It isn’t because I think the tide will change and in a few months they
will see how perfectly it fits. It’s because I’m busy sending that same story
out to other places. I believe in my story enough to know it deserves to be
published. It’s my job and duty to my work to find the right place for it.

I’ve also found when I have multiple projects
happening, the rejection letters become easier to handle.

Writing is an art and a business. The art comes from
obviously creating the piece. The business comes when it’s time to get that
piece out into the public. I think many writers take the business part too
personally. Remember, it’s not personal; it’s business. So why not take that
approach to submissions? Here are my suggestions:

  1. Believe
    in your piece. If you don’t think it’s ready, don’t put it out there.
  2. Research
    about twenty magazines. Look at their websites. Look at what they publish.
    Evaluate your piece. Would it fit there? Yes?
  3. Read
    their submission guidelines. Then follow them.
  4. Send
    out one story to five places.
  5. Work
    on something else.
  6. When
    you get your first rejection letter, read it. If it isn’t helpful, delete it
    and send out the piece to the sixth place on your list. Each time it gets
    rejected, send it back out to a new place and continue working through your
  7. Keep
    working on something new. This will help focus your efforts on the creative
    output and not bog you down with worry about why your piece keeps getting
  8. Keep
    in mind it’s a lot of work to get a piece published. But since you believe in
    your piece, you will continue looking for its new home.
  9.   When it
    gets accepted, contact the other magazines and ask to withdraw your story.
  10. Repeat
    this process with that new piece you were working on while you were waiting for
    the first piece to find a home.

The bottom line: do not take the rejection
personally because it isn’t meant to be that way. Most magazines are looking to
promote writers, not rip them apart. The rejection doesn’t mean it’s a bad
piece and you shouldn’t stop writing because of a rejection. Brush yourself off
and send the piece back out.

Michelle Wittle On Rejection Letter Number 5

Michelle Wittle On, Writing Tips

I am starting to loose faith in my writing. I am pretty sure that this is normal and I know I need to get a tougher skin and all of that, but everyone gets weak at times and this is just my time.


This is the fifth time I have written a story for the same place and I am still getting a ton of negative feedback. I think what bothers me the most is that I put actual biographical events in this story and I am being told that those things are unbelievable. Do we have the right to say how someone sees a situation is unbelievable? I mean if it is grossly out of whack and doesn’t fit in the story, then I think sure, pull the “too much creative freedom” card. But if it fits in the story, how can it be wrong?


In a story (especially one of flash fiction) shouldn’t there be unanswered questions? Maybe not unanswered, but just questions that you need to dig a bit for in order to find the answers. I love hiding behind words and I do love a mystery. I don’t want to just tell my readers everything that is going on. I think some things need to be unsaid yet implied. So for me to be told that I am leaving unanswered questions, well it makes me a bit angry.


Then there is the “I am telling two stories”. This may be true. I think with this story I was trying to keep with one idea, but maybe another story is pushing itself out. That is the thing with me. When I write I story, I don’t sit there and story board it all out. I don’t think about who will be sitting reading my tale. I just write it out. I have this idea and I just let it take form. Maybe that is my downfall. Maybe because I am not thinking about who will read it, I can’t craft it well enough. But then I feel like that is selling out because I am crafting something for someone instead of it just coming out and seeing where it should go.


Maybe I am taking one person’s opinion way too seriously. Another person may read the story and think it is great. That is why I am putting it on my own blog (mwittle.wordpress.com). Come read it for yourself and see what you think. I will have the whole story along with the whole rejection letter. I am really hoping for some more opinions. My bruised ego needs some TLC.


I am rewriting the story again and this time I will tell the story I think has been trying to get out the whole time. I will, as much as it hurts, tell the story about how someone has lost their twin soul and desperately needs them back.