Woe is Me: I’m a Raymond Carver Reject

Raymond Carver rejected me today.

It wasn’t personal, of course; Raymond Carver passed away in 1988. It was actually a publication named in honor of Raymond Carver that passed me up.

Months ago, I began work on a short story entitled Windswept. It’s the first real writing that I have ever committed my heart to and, since I completed draft seven on the day before the deadline for submissions, I decided to go for it.

Now, months later, I am reading a personable rejection letter courtesy of the folks at Carve Magazine. Woe is me.

When I found out that my name is not among the finalists, honorable mentions or semifinalists, my reaction was a brash, egotistical lamentation:

The judges don’t know what true talent is!

Then I turned my scorn on the winning writers:

What kind of title is that for a short story? What’s so special about her? Texas? When did a good writer ever come from Texas?

Once I calmed myself—and quelled my ego—I realized that this rejection is well deserved. I also realized that it is an opportunity for edification.

Let’s get a few things straight. It is naïve for an amateur of any background to think that their first submission will immediately be bought up and celebrated with pats on the back and widespread acclaim. Why? Because that submission probably isn’t anywhere near the level of excellence that you attribute to it in your mind.

Mine certainly isn’t. This was not only the first time that I ever submitted my work for publication but also the first story that I committed to writing in earnest! Did I really expect it to be worthy of recognition so soon?

That is not to say that I endorse the self-deprecating attitude that plagues so many young writers. Far be it from me to discourage any writer from committing to their work, cultivating their skills and putting themselves out there just because an arduous journey awaits them.

On the contrary, I think the growing pains associated with a nascent writing career are important, humbling doses of reality. They need to be accepted as such in order for growth to be possible.

The fact is, rejection is a fundamental element of writing, even if it is an unfavorable one. The innate subjectivity of writing and its criticism tells me that rejection will always be there, in one form or another. I view rejection (especially at the amateur level) as a rite of passage for any writer. Even though my own rite is just beginning, I have already learned that I must face rejection, learn from it each time and then move on.

This all makes me think that perhaps Raymond Carver would be proud of me and the other rejects. Why wouldn’t he be proud of us?

The next true writer might be burgeoning among our ranks.

**UPDATE** Windswept was accepted by Nib Magazine and published in their debut issue.


Filed under Essay, Featured Content, Writing

14 responses to “Woe is Me: I’m a Raymond Carver Reject

  1. Pingback: Early progression of an amateur writer | Anthony Martin

  2. Pingback: Short Story Accepted by Nib Magazine | Pen Tight | Edit Straight

  3. Great attitude! It will take you far 🙂


  4. One of the cool things about Carve is that when you do place your story elsewhere, they will publish it as well in their special feature…Reject! Best of luck!


  5. Rejection sucks. But there are all the famous authors out there who say the same thing: it builds character, thickens your skin and makes you a better writer. It hurts now but you’ll look back and laugh soon enough. And more importantly, you’ll keep on writing. 😉


  6. toni zeisel

    …just write, write, write, and then write again. I bet, in time your work will be published, would’nt be found on shelfs of bookstores among autors like Danielle Steel. (I wonder how that kind of literature could pass rejectors). There are readers who long for better. You are just in ovum. I believe in you and love you.


  7. deb

    What a fabulous piece of honest writing! I love ya for it and I really hope you keep on writing. All the best for the future.


  8. Thank you for reading my “Legacy” story. It is good that you were able to visit Eastern Europe and where your family came from. I will follow your blog and hope you will follow my blog as well. Best wishes,beebeesworld


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