Even if you’re not a writer or if you’ve never taken your writing out of that secret shoebox and tried submitting it, you all know what it feels like to wait and wait and wait for a VIP response letter. You wait weeks, praying that somebody will take pity and acknowledge your existence with a rejection letter, at least.
Welcome to the infamous Job Hunting experience!
A huge theme in conversations at the NYU Publishing Institute this week has been frustration over being ignored. We send emails to people who gave us their business cards and kindly told us to contact them; we submit resumes and cover letters; we ask for informational interviews; we plead desperately for unpaid internships. After getting no responses for two weeks, we send a follow-up email. “They’re important people,” we say, forgiving them. “They’re busy.” We just need to remind them again that we exist and that they promised to set up a meeting with us or to personally forward our resumes along to HR.
Still, no response.
There’s been some general celebration this week when publishers have sent out form rejection letters. “I heard back!” someone will announce when they come in the classroom. “It was a mass-sent form rejection letter, but I heard back!” We pat those lucky people on the shoulders and congratulate them, silently sulking that we weren’t so lucky. We wallow in a purgatory similar to long distance relationships where the other person doesn’t take the time to ever formally break up with you. After a few weeks of always reaching voice mail, you are left to assume that it’s over.
I’m so happy that the literary world doesn’t ignore writers. Eventually, they send out those rejection letters. It’s kind. It’s polite. And trust me, we appreciate it. It’s just a matter of how long we have to wait.