What’s in a Rejection….

….if it’s spelled with a “g” does it sting as much?
(and does it become a hard g instead of a soft?)

The most frustrating part about receiving a rejection is the lack of explanation as to why my work is not being chosen.  Yes, I understand that you received over A TRILLION entries for the contest and that you have had a SHOCKINGLY OVERWHELMING amount of response for your program, so you cannot  afford to spend time letting those who were rejected know if they could improve their work or submit new work or if they should just stop trying  because you don’t like the color of black ink the printer printed.

Which is a flaw in the system.  It is.  As Sophocles said, Writing is subjective.

He said that when Aristotle said, “Yo everyone, you can all stop trying because my main man Soph just wrote the most perfect tragedy ever.  Give it up, suckassss.”

And Sophocles said “Let’s not alienate people like that, okay bro, because that really puts a lot of pressure on me”

To which Aristotle replied “I’m saying people should strive to be JUST LIKE YOU, take the compliment!”

But Sophocles would not take the compliment.  He instead said “Arty.  Writing is subjective.  What may seem like brilliance to one mind may seem like utter garbage to another.”

I can only assume that’s how it went down.

So why do we get rejected? Can somebody give me an explanation, please?

And I’m not talking about explanations such as “you were just not what we were looking for”.  Actually, if we’re just going according to your entry guidelines, I was EXACTLY what you were looking for.

Let’s take a random example from a random contest from which I received a rejection:

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

All One Acts  must be well written, perceptive and entertaining.  Well howdydo, I guess I’ll choose my strongest work, you know, the one that I know is strong because I’ve been workshopping it for oh, I dunno, three years?  And gosh if it isn’t entertaining, I know that it is because I did a public workshop of it and people not only came, but they LAUGHED.  CHECK

Comedy, drama or anything in between will be considered. Whoa, this contest will even accept genres that don’t fall into the category of drama and comedy?  Then my sci-tragiromcomedy is sure to be a big hit! (I sent them a drama). CHECK

One Act plays should be 25 to 45 minutes in length. 35 pages = 35 minutes.  That’s some statistic perfection right there. CHECK

Should be written in standard play formatting. No way!  Write it like a play?! I did that, too! CHECK

Submission dates are NOW through FEBRUARY 11 2011 (postmarked). I opted to send it “NOW” so BAM DOUBLECHECK for it being early.

So why was mine Just not what you were looking for, Faceless Stranger, if it fell into your guidelines?  Well, clearly, there are other factors- the subjective nature of art, whether or not it would be a good fit for the company or whether it really is just major crap and I’m just fooling myself into believing I’m a good writer.

(The latter part is NEVER TRUE.  I’m talking to you, EVERYONE EVER).

Receiving “The Rejection Letter” is like staring into a void that echoes with the unanswered questions of your failure.  It stirs up questions and insecurities and there is usually no real way of ever knowing why you were not chosen.

Wouldn’t it just be a better world if we could all be told Why?  Wouldn’t that actually make us grow as writers and maybe even (dare I say it) become successful?

I wonder what Sophocles did when Oedipus Rex got rejected the first time he sent it off to We R Greekz for the One Act play festival about hubris in the Modern Century.  Well, at least he kept writing.

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5 comments on “What’s in a Rejection….

  1. The best thing I’ve read in awhile. Why? Readable. Don’t let them get you down. Just keep writing.
    Les

  2. Saronai says:

    I loved your modernized Sophocles and Aristotle exchange, it made me giggle!

    I understand they get bogged down, but it would be nice if rejections were more specific about why. Particularly when you consider all the places that expect you to wait up to half a year and not submit the piece to other places in the meantime.

  3. Crystal says:

    Hey there. Thanks for recommending this link to me – it’s awesome, and you’re so right! All regection (wow, that does feel better!) sucks, but when it’s a form regection it’s even worse because you’re not even allowed to know precisely where you went wrong so you could maybe, just maybe, do it right the next time! The funny part is? I just wrote a post about regection saying how I was going to face it head-on and not be afraid of it etc. etc. Sigh…

    Oh, well – onward and upward, and I really appreciate you brightening my evening! 🙂

  4. Adeel Salman says:

    Okay… this is a masterpiece…. the fusion gets a taste of perfection…

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