I once read that Stephen King hung his rejection letters like Medals of Honor around his office (at least I think that’s what I read – check that one for me – the book is available as an ebook). Another friend holds a ceremonial burning of each rejection she receives. Me, I usually note them in my submission system – which incidentally is the ever-so-technologically-advanced green recipe box that sits on my desk – and then throw them away. I’m not sure what the best thing to do with those sheets (sometimes now they’re little slips of paper the size of business cards). Should I keep them? Burn them? Display them? File them? Trash them? What is the value of these things anyway?
Some would argue that we should keep them as badges of honor, the Stephen King mentality, to show our wounds in the writing battle. We should bear them proudly, like the scars of war. But I’m not much one for battle metaphors.
Some argue that we should quietly squirrel them away into a file where, if by chance we get a huge success and start to get cocky, we can review the massive number of rejections and, thereby, deflate our overgrown heads. The possibility of excessive pride about my writing seems so distance that this idea doesn’t strike me either.
Some way we should keep them to be sure we don’t submit the same thing to the same place again, a fair suggestion if you don’t have a nifty tracking system such as mine. Others say we should set them up in a conflagration that would rival the best book burning, but that seems excessive and a bit overdone for my taste.
So in the end I’m left with my quandary still – keep, destroy, keep, destroy – And I decide, in this moment, to keep them. Better safe than sorry – I wouldn’t want to get overwhelmingly arrogant in the future and not have something to bring me down to earth. But then again, in this utopian future, maybe these slips will only serve to increase my arrogance in the “look what I’ve been through” sense, and then maybe I should destroy them. Who know?