Rejection with Grace

By David R Castro

Dealing with rejection is part of life, really. Almost everything, I’ve found, is when boiled down, you trying to do something and someone else being okay or not with that. Submitting to a literary blog is no different. We aren’t going to like everything, we just aren’t. Some of that is just because we don’t like the content, which has no bearing on the skill of the writer. More often, however, it is because of the quality of the piece. Sometimes people think art has to be strange to be good, convoluted and pretentious, because your work has to be common rabble. Everyone wants to be the next great American writer, novelist, poet.

When you send in a piece to a blog for publication, part of what can happen is they say no. Same thing as if you send your script to a studio or your novel to a publisher. You are opening yourself up to rejection when you do this. But before I go into more of that, let me pull back the curtain to tell you all the submission process here at Babbling of the Irrational.

When you send in a piece to us, it hits our Gmail account and we read it, then vote on if we want to post it. If so, we send an acceptance email with the projected date it’ll post and a request for a blurb if the writer didn’t send one with it. If we don’t like it, there are three levels of rejection: “we will not be publishing your piece as it is, but if you edit it we might rethink it, and we think you have potential, so send us other things you’ve written if you’d like”, “we will not be publishing this piece ever, but you still have potential so, if you’d like, send us other things you’ve written”, and “We will not be publishing this piece and we aren’t interested in anything else you’ve written”. Clearly we do not outright say these things, per se, but that’s the idea behind the responses.

Now, more than once, we have gotten frankly rude replies from writers who we have rejected, with insults ranging from our ability as readers, to the quality of other already published pieces, to general comments degrading the blog as a whole as something unimportant or beneath them. It’s that last thing that gives me the most amusement. Those writers submitted to us, we did not go to them for a piece, we did not beg them for a piece, but when we turn them down, we get sarcasm and a “good luck with your little web page”, as the latest person said to us.

Nothing is good to everyone, not everyone will like your work, and when you send something to be judged subjectively, you will run the risk that the judges or, in our case, the editors, will not like it. Regardless of the reason why, it’s never, ever, personal. Even if we do not like any of your work, it’s not us saying you’re bad, it’s that you’re not for us. We will always, if we don’t ask for another piece from you, wish you luck in other endeavors.

Basically, it comes down to this. We don’t mean you any ill will when we reject your piece, and more often than not, we will be happy to read anything else you have to send, but when you show that you can not take rejection with grace, you show your quality, or lack thereof. To be professional in this field is to know how to take a no without raging, to know that you’re not going to be everything to all people, and to keep trying until someone says yes.


David is a co-founder and editor of Babbling of the Irrational and an aspiring writer from NYC. You can interact with David on Twitter and by email at

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