Steinbeck on rejection:
“I think everyone in the world to a large or small extent has felt rejection. And with rejection comes anger, and with anger some kind of crime in revenge for the rejection, and with the crime guilt–and there is the story of mankind. I think that if rejection could be amputated, the human would not be what he is. Maybe there would be fewer crazy people. I am sure in myself there would not be many jails.”
–Lee in East of Eden
I just logged into the Brown application website to try to view my MFA rejection letter. It’s no longer there. I am wondering where it went. My status is simply “submitted” and no longer rejected. Could my rejection have been revoked? No, probably not. There is probably a demon in their system affording me this glimmer of false hope—like dreaming of your crush putting the moves on you. The first thing I actually thought was, “What am I going to tell my parents?” They are used to me always being “the best” and are far more invested in my success than I am. I told them not to get their hopes up. I put together a typo-filled portfolio the night before it was due because I was visiting my mom who was in the hospital from a suicide attempt and applying to grad school was the last thing on my mind. But I had an application waiver, so I sent it off with a statement that basically said, “I’m sorry this is bad. My life is a wreck right now.”
Luckily, I copy and pasted the rejection letter into my long poem before it disappeared:
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Latest in the controversy regarding manuscripts recently turned down post-acceptance at the Paris Review, apparently we may get to see the maligned documents see daylight after all. According to insiders at the Peemsmen Monthly, a second-shift janitor at the P.R. headquarters, upon realizing what literary-scandal-wrongdoing-travesty he’d been made to take part in, ran back out into the trashyard where the massive P.R. dumpster is and fished out said to-be-and-no-longer-ParisReviewianed language.
The janitor, who wishes to remain anonymous for now, is currently looking to publish the lot as a “found manuscript.” He is available for contact via representation by Marble-Withersby Agency in New York.
Currently tallied among the rubble:
- A haiku by Jonathan Franzen on the brevity of life and the deliciousness of fat free yogurt
- An erasure by Nam Le of his mother’s travel diaries as a child, concerning her impregnation with him, which Nam Le erased himself from entirely, a retroactive comment on the Gulf War
- Two halfcompleted crossword puzzles teamwritten by Alice Mattison & Barbie Smeemersund
- A photograph by Charlize Theron taken from the midgrade-price seating of a recent Chicago Bulls practice (kinda blurry)
- Another haiku by Jonathan Franzen about the writing process of the first haiku, which originally appeared on a popular upcoming literary journal’s twitter feed at the tune of $400 a syllable
- A concrete poem self portrait by Rick Bass repeating the word fishinglure in various crazy anagrams
- A transcript of every adjective Richard Ford spoke while restringing his son’s guitar twice in the same afternoon
- A third haiku by Jonathan Franzen regarding the phone call he received from his mother while writing the poem about the writing of the poem, and her subsequent medical condition
- A tear-out unfoldable paper shirt designed by Martin Amis’s agent’s neighbor, a previously unpublished author
- Letters written to Al Gore by Denis Johnson in the voice of Al Gore’s dog, with audio samples contracted to have been available online for $.99 a download on a portion of the website that also will no longer grace the web
I don’t know about you, but I’m positively peeping in anticipation and great terror. Robin Hood or hoodrat? Sylvia Beach or motherfucker? We’re living in a no-holds-barred world here, people, where wicker elephants walk among the real ones. First Tin House is trying to force people to actually buy books, and now these guys want to change their minds on history. Hold me!
Socrates Adams-Florou and Crispin Best just started a new online magazine. It is called Rejection Digest.
If you have written something that someone has rejected, we want to read it. Send it to email@example.com as soon as you can. In order to qualify for submission, we also require a copy of a rejection e-mail of some sort. There is a special rule. If you can provide us FIVE rejection e-mails, we GUARANTEE publication. If you have less than five, we do not guarantee publication.