The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Failure or Alas, I cannot get published

Rachael Conlin Levy
“The blossoming of your words” by psyberartist.

Rejection excerpts:

Thanks so much, but we weren’t able to include this in the November issue. — Skirt!

Thank you for sending “Creation” to us. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to use this piece for Literary Mama. Please know that we receive a tremendous number of submissions, and can only take a small percentage of the fine stories that are submitted. But we are thankful for your readership, thankful that you thought of us and value us enough to submit your work. — Literary Mama

I was really touched by your piece, and I think a lot of mothers would be helped by it. I don’t think it would be retained by the Mothering editorial staff but I do think you should send it to Brain, Child. It reminds me of a lot of pieces they have published, although not on the same topic. — Mothering

I enjoyed reading your essay and admired your smooth prose. However, I must report that we’ve decided to give it a pass. Please note that this doesn’t necessarily reflect on the quality of your work (we receive about 750 submissions for every seven we publish). I wish you the best of luck placing this piece elsewhere. –– Brain, Child

“La tristeza del silencio: Tears” by lord cнernoвιll.

I received five rejection letters last month, three in the final week. I read the last letter at 10 p.m., then I switched off the lights and walked head-on into a wall. Bam! Nose and ego both smarting, I crawled into bed, pulled the covers over my head and cried.

This is (generally) what happens when I receive a rejection letter:

I shut down. Hope closes, curls, crumples inside of me until it’s nothing more than a small, hard fist that punches me in the stomach. Pow! Oomph!

I cry. Lip trembles, tears spill while my small son looks on. The toddling mime tries to mimic his mama, but uncertain whether she is laughing or crying, emotions flit across his face like clouds in a windy sky.

I remember. The clenched fist inside me finds scars left by editors who were too harsh, who cut too deep. Pow! Oomph! More bruises, this time self-inflicted.

I search. I open cupboards, find chocolate and eat the equivalent of two candy bars. I drink two cups of scalding tea.

I play a song. Failure” off Laura Marling’s album Alas I Cannot Swim. I pledge to play it every time my writing is rejected.

I read. The rejected piece of writing. Other pieces. Tinker. Email something to a new editor.

I stand. In sunshine, melting like butter.

The fist opens. Hope unfurls.

“Her Hands” by Slaff.

“A writer is a person who cares
what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.”

— Ursula K. Le Guin: A Few Words to a Young Writer

I spent this weekend thinking about why and what and where I write, and decided that I need to shake things up a bit. So The Slow-Cooked Sentence won’t be publishing three times a week during November. I’m going to be busy writing a novel.

“What?!” you ask.

Yep. I’ve signed up and am participating in National Novel Writing Month, a “fun, seat-of-your-pants approach (that values) enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft.” The goal: To write 50,000 words in 30 days, which works out to 1,667 words a day.

The Slow-Cooked Sentence will publish (hopefully) on Mondays and Wednesdays in November. There will be a guest column or two and the occasional update on how the novel writing’s going. So keep dropping in. Meanwhile, the gun’s been fired, the race begun. I’m off and writing!

One response to “Failure or Alas, I cannot get published”

  1. Oh my gosh Rachael, I can't imagine getting those rejection letters. You are such a great writer.

    I just wanted to throw something out at you. Check it out if you want.

    Hugs, Kyndale

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