Poets & Writers

Submit That Manuscript!

JUST a few days ago I received a rejection letter from the Southern Review. The e-mail read, in part, “Dear Joey Franklin: Thank you for sending us [your essay]. We enjoyed this piece, but we didn’t feel it was right for the Southern Review.”

How to describe the emotions wrapped up in this brief encounter? First there was surprise at the unexpected response after months of waiting. Then a jolt of anticipation as my finger hovered over the e-mail link on my phone’s screen—the possibility of sharing journal space with so many writers I admire; the schmoozing when I run into editors at next year’s AWP book fair; the kudos from colleagues who’ve been trying to get into the magazine for years—eat your hearts out! And there’s also the practical matter of money (the Southern Review actually pays cash) as well as the all-important publication line on my curriculum vitae.

Then, of course, I open the e-mail and all that irrational optimism plunges deep into the pit of my stomach. Rejection is a sickening experience, something akin to airplane turbulence or bumping into your ex while she’s out with her new fling. Neuroscientists have actually identified similarities between our response to rejection and our response to physical pain. And the more personal the rejection, the more pain we feel. A friend of mine recently told me she received two rejection letters in one day—one from a poetry

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