What A Reject

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I am waiting for a rejection letter. Not just any rejection letter. The mother of all rejection letters, particularly as it pertains to those of us who write humor, or at least attempt to.

I have been awaiting this rejection letter for twenty-six days now. Which means it’s six days late. The people from whom I’m expecting it are typically mercifully quick and like clockwork in telling me to take a hike. If I mail them a piece on the first, I have their “Maybe your friends think you’re a riot, but they’re wrong” letter by the twenty-first. Twenty days on the dot. I know because I send them one of my demented diatribes once a week. And so far I’ve received a rejection–within twenty days–to every single one.

That’s not to say I’m not making progress. I am. My first thirty-five rejection letters were standard photocopied form letter fare. But of late each has had a personal note scrawled in the corner. Stuff like “I really liked it!” and “Keep trying!”

So I do. I do keep trying.

That’s why twenty-six days ago I sent them a few more of my “female funnies,” as my husband calls them. And that may be the problem. There are two editors of this publication, a man and a woman, and I write mainly for those with uteruses. (I’d say breasts, but since there are plenty of guys who’d benefit from a little Ipex action, it’s safer to go with something gynecological.)  It’s a good bet the gentleman calling half the shots doesn’t share my fondness for shoes, fashion, and fine needle injectibles, which means the chances of my getting the green light are slim, but you never know.

What I do know is that I get a lot done while waiting to be spurned by this and other magazines.

Last week I washed the windows. I started using the old newspaper and vinegar trick. Then, in a burst of inspiration, I switched to vinegar and a bunch of my Good Housekeeping “your drivel will never see the light of day” communiqués. Nothing I’ve written has gotten their seal of approval, but that sparkle sure gets mine.

Just this morning I replaced the drawer liner sheets in my shoe cubbies. I skipped the lavender scented Laura Ashley sheaths in favor of several “get lost” missives from Working Mother, Cosmopolitan, and More. Their brightly colored logos look pretty peeking out from beneath my footwear. And seeing my four-inch stilettos stabbing their editors’ signatures gives me a certain perverse sense of satisfaction.

Occasionally I even wrap gifts in rejection letters. Redbook’s are particularly perfect for this application as they’re printed–big surprise–on red paper. Sure they bellow “YOUR STUFF STINKS” but topped with a shiny bow they make any present look pretty. (Plus they let me off the hook for not having bought something more expensive. Obviously I can’t afford to.)

It’s reached the point where my bills and rejection letters arrive in lockstep. If I open my post office box to find an invoice for my health insurance premium, I can be sure a rebuff from Reader’s Digest is tucked somewhere in there, too. If it’s time to pay Cingular, DirecTV, or MasterCard, it’s time to be snubbed by Seventeen, the Saturday Evening Post, and Prevention.

The combination of bills and bad news would depress most people, but not me. For starters, my work actually gets published pretty frequently, (as evidenced by the fact that you’re reading it right now), and recently I sold my first book.

I do think, though, that it’s human nature to dwell on the rejections, the ones that got away, the ones that didn’t want you for whatever ridiculous reason. Like my high school boyfriend, Donny. He dumped me for a redhead. No offense folks, but when does a blonde get dumped for a redhead? At my last class reunion I learned the poor guy had gone legally blind. Frankly I saw that coming senior year.

In all seriousness, getting the kiss-off from dozens of popular publications doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is the waiting. I still haven’t heard from the “#1 humor magazine in America” but I’m sure I will shortly. I’m also sure that when I do, it won’t be funny. It will, however, be a relief. No one likes being rejected, but at least you know where you stand. Or in my case, sit. In front of my laptop, trying again.


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