I'm fairly prepared for rejection. I know that it is a part of life as a beginning writer trying to get published. And I've had a few in the past fifteen months. I've submitted literary essays, one fiction short story, and early this year my first picture book. Most rejections came in as form letters sent to me in envelopes with my own handwriting on the front. Some literary magazines simply never responded- after nine months I can take a hint. But I have to say that I was unprepared for a phantom rejection.
Last winter I sent out a picture book manu to three mid-sized publishing houses. It took short work for them each to reject the piece. I got three letters back in the mail with deftly crafted words attempting to persuade me that it was not that my work was bad, it was just simply not for them.
I had already moved on to work on another PB manu, so I didn't take the rejections personally. But yesterday I stopped for my mail and discovered a letter from one of the houses. My name was scribbled messily on the front of their letterhead envelope, and my curiosity was piqued. I opened it with great interest. And, I admit hope.
It was... a rejection letter. They rejected my work. Again. Ten months after they already rejected it. Was this just an end of the year round up of all the delusional aspiring writers they had encountered over the past year, a sort of holiday season catch-all rejection? Or just some phantom duplicate of the original that got lost in the in-house mail room? Maybe, in my complete stark raving craze to become a published writer I sent them another manu in the mail that I forgot about? Or perhaps rejection has just become so commonplace in my writing life, I just dreamed the original?
I was under the impression that manuscripts would be promptly recycled upon rejection. I cannot imagine on whose desk my manuscript has been lurking for all these months, but I'm glad she saw fit to get back to me. Again. The way things are going with this house, maybe my manuscript will get shuffled under another pile of slush on some other poor intern's desk. And ten months from now someone else will read it and reject it again.
Or maybe not. Maybe third time's a charm. And I didn't even have to submit it twice.