9000 Rejection Letters
As of October 23, 2023, I have amassed a total of 9000 rejection letters. I also have 210 published works (books, short stories, and poems). In my nearly decade-long foray into writing, I have been successful an astonishing 2.33% of the time. The stack of rejection letters, if neatly piled upon each other forming the rectangular parallelepiped it so richly deserves to be monikered, would reach an altitude of 36 inches. While not rivaling the infamy of other authors, this stack serves as a symbol for failure 4 standard deviations from the mean and the same symbol for effort 4.1 standard deviations from the same mean.
Statistically, the company who rejected my work the most is (ironically) the same company that accepted my work the most. Five hundred times from four hundred publishers, I have received, “Thank you for submitting your work with us. We appreciate the chance to read it, but it is not quite right for us. We wish you the best with your writing and in finding a home for it elsewhere for this piece.” Should I italicize the word “this”, almost as if pompous English professor wearing a Central Casting brown corduroy jacket with leather elbow patches in sharp contrast to his scarlet turtle-neck sweater referred to the superiority of his work over that of the other eight billion upright bipedal hominins while emphasizing that most important, worthy of being italicized monosyllabic utterance . . .
But I digress, lost in a sea of false equivalence amongst a disastrous run-on sentence and stereotypical dependent clauses.
Whether it is nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or something similar William once said.
I should be used to this by now.
9000 reject letters with 210 publications is better than the percent ore richness for mining diamonds, gold, silver, platinum, rhodium, nickel, or iridium.
However, 2.33% (note the customary use of significant figures for those with access to calculators) is well below the expectations of juggling flaming (active) chainsaws, NBA half-court shooting, five coin flips all landing on heads, drawing a three-of-a-kind in poker, or anything associated with the Mendoza Line.
Thus, it is all relative.
My personal expectation, in 2015, was to reach 100 publications before 1000 rejection letters.
In 2017, it might suffice to acquire 125 publications before 3000 rejection letters.
In 2019, if asked, I would settle for 150 publications before 5000 rejection letters.
Today, 300 publications before 10000 such letters would be a milestone.
In response to a query as to whether Tomas Edison really did fail 10000 times while trying to invent the light bulb, he optimistically replied, “I’ve successfully found 10000 ways that will not work.”
And that is the reason I continue to sojourn as I do.