The Binder of No (or, why I kept my rejections)
Yes, a lot of these submissions were sent back when snail mail was king and the SASE was queen, bearing tidings of far-off lands. And by "tidings," I mean "rejections."
About 3 years ago, I dug all these letters out of my file cabinet, organized them with a copy of the manuscript they accompanied (and oh, they really were not ready for travel!), and put them in a binder.
For the more recent pieces, the letters, with their charming icons and New York addresses were replaced by single spreadsheets tracking submissions, notes, and rejections.
Why go through all that effort for a bunch of NO's?
It helped me to see that I was putting effort into my dream. Kind of a reverse-vision board - proof of effort (and working for another outcome).
There's one letter in there, from Highlights Magazine, that encouraged me. It was personal. Someone actually took the time to write, "I liked your humorous, kid-friendly writing."
Seeing that letter again reminded me that writing is a journey of endurance.
Writers put a lot of effort into becoming good at what they do. Why shouldn't we cherish the steps along the way? Even the No's.
(Originally published February 20, 2016)