Last week, Sylvia Plath shared her 1962 rejection letter from the New Yorker and, admittedly, it was rather kind as far as rejection letters go. This week, we’re taking no prisoners.
Ann Beattie first rose to fame in the early 1970s and, as the Paris Review notes in a more recent interview, she was no fan of the attention: “I can’t help it if people make the mistake of thinking that I am a prophet and that I am disguising my wisdom as short fiction that’s published in the New Yorker.”
Turns out, however, that getting that short fiction into the New Yorker* was no easy task (duh). Beattie says the magazine rejected the first seventeen stories she sent in.
Beattie kept trying, though, and not always with the encouragement of New Yorker editors. “Not this one, but send more?” was a reply she doesn’t remember receiving.
Her doggedness paid off, however, if teaching at Harvard, winning the PEN/Malamud Award, publishing more than twenty books, and, you know, acting as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences are any indication.
So take a tip from Ann Beattie and don’t take “no” for an answer; try out some short-fiction writing with this Glimmer Train contest. The worst that’ll happen is you’ll be rejected—but at least it’ll only be once.**
*We promise to focus on another rejection-prone publication next week.
**Not that it’ll be your last ever.