Songs for the Struggling Artist


Rejections as a Measure of Hope?
March 18, 2022, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Rejections, theatre, writing | Tags: , , ,

New York Classical Rejection

I didn’t submit to many things in 2021. This was the first theatre I submitted to in over in a year. It seemed such a gimmee – a Shakespeare company doing readings of Shakespeare adjacent work. I have a LOT of this sort of material due to applying over and over to the Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries award at the American Shakespeare Center, a company that I used to work as an actor for and therefore know VERY well. I just can’t resist it, every time it comes around. And therefore I have a small glut of plays that are perfect for a Shakespeare company but have never been produced.

I’ve seen New York Classical’s work and met their Artistic Director while doing some Folger education work so it seemed like a natural fit. I thought that they’d look at my finalist play and snap it right up. They did not.

Back in the rejection saddle again!

That was the first in a while and since it was so short, I sat on it for months, waiting to fill this post out with some other rejections.

Now the rejections are flowing again so you know I must be bothering to apply for stuff again finally. The document where I track my applications and rejections is a real study in….I don’t know what to call it – Hope and Despair?

Ashland New Play Festival

In 2019, I applied to 92 things and in 2020 I applied to 18 things. Almost all those applications were in the first three months of the year. (Wonder why!)  I guess I was starting to feel vaguely hopeful there might be theatre again by the fall of 2021 as I did manage to submit to 8 things. The rejection for the Ashland New Play festival which I applied to in October just rolled in and I expect the others will be along shortly.

But I’ve already applied six this year, so I guess I’ve raised my hope level somewhat? It doesn’t FEEL like it but the evidence suggests a shift.

And now they roll in.

The Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference

The very first time I applied to the O’Neill, I got into the semi-finals. It has not happened since. I had never applied before my first submission. I really didn’t think I stood a snowball’s chance in hell and I didn’t want to spend $35 just to melt my snowball, as it were.

In a way, that first shocking win has made all the subsequent submissions more painful to lose than they otherwise would have been. Sometimes it’s easier to apply when you think you have no chance. You just throw your submission money down the hole with a kiss and it’s over. When you’ve had a little glimmer of hope, the rejection somehow feels a little sharper.

Anyway – this year I submitted my mash up of Jane Austen and All’s Well that Ends Well. It did not make the semi-finals.

Orlando Shakes PlayFest

(title of email: PlayFest 2022 Unsolicited Query Update)

I will say this for the Orlando Shakes fest; They are one of the speediest rejections around. I feel like I JUST sent them the same Austen All’s Well that I sent to the O’Neill and they have already rejected it. There are at least eight other rejections I would have expected first but they are very efficient over there. I applaud them for it, truly. It is so much better to get these things done quickly.

*Wondering why I’m telling you about rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

Hope? Despair? Just a cool work of art somewhere.

This post was brought to you by my patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist 

You can find the podcast on iTunesStitcherSpotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotifymy websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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A Grant Ain’t One

You may not be shocked to learn that the City did not give me one of its 5k City Artist Corps Grants. I did end up applying for it, after all that sturm und drang – and two days after my birthday – I got a rejection email from them. Happy Birthday to me!

Well, I guess I got 99 problems but a grant ain’t one.

You may be saying to yourself – “Well, Emily, perhaps if you hadn’t publicly complained about this grant in two previous blog posts, maybe they would have given it to you! Maybe badmouthing grantmakers is not a great strategy for receiving their bounty.” And you would be absolutely right about that. I know I’m saying stuff that does not endear me to people who give those things out. This is why most artists don’t say anything. This is why they can be pathologically POSITIVE! OPTIMISTIC! Because, yes, it’s true, talking about our challenges with these things is probably not a great way to get these grants.

The thing is, though, I have a kind of freedom, as a marginal artist, to say whatever I want. I know that very few people are listening and that the odds of my grant panel actually reading a single word of this blog are very very slim. After all these years of doing this, I feel even more comfortable in my relative anonymity than I did when I started. I’ve had only a very small handful of blog posts land in front of arts folk with power and if they do end up there, it’s because I said whatever I said in such a way that it spoke to those folks and got passed around between them.

I can almost guarantee you that no one from that City Corps committee read either of my posts about their grant. I doubt, very highly, that it was a factor in my rejection. It’s much more likely that my project just didn’t sound like what they had in mind for this thing. Or that they were turned off by the fact that I have a company when they’re trying to help individual artists. But – of course, despite the odds, I still wonder if these posts somehow tanked my chances. It’s hard not to guess at things when you know nothing. It won’t stop me telling these sorts of truths in the future, though.

In fact, the only way I can see myself stopping talking about these uncomfortable nitty gritty arts realities is if they gave me one of the big grants. That is the most reliable way to shut up a troublesome artist – just give them your resources and the criticism will likely dry right up. It’s the artists with something to lose who will keep quiet, blow smoke or do whatever they have to do to remain within the good graces of the goods givers. I’d like to believe I would continue to speak my truths no matter what resources were given to me – but I also recognize that part of the reason I can do it is that I have absolutely nothing to lose. I can see how easy it would become to say nothing when to say something might actually register with the people I was receiving grants or funding from. I know this is true because I’ve already done it. If a hand is feeding me, I do not bite it. Grants like these, however, are not hands that feed me – just hands that might feed me one day if I got extremely lucky. God willing and the creek don’t rise, which the creek always does, so, you know, it’s unlikely to happen. This blog, on the other hand, is a hand that actually feeds me (through Patreon) and so the choice feels very clear. I write for the hand that actually feeds me, not the one that MIGHT.

This post was brought to you by my patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist 

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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A Quarter of the Rejections
February 9, 2021, 12:16 am
Filed under: Rejections | Tags: , ,

This year, I’m grateful to say, I’ve gotten some new patrons on Patreon and new subscribers on the blog. It occurs to me that folks who’ve been reading for a while are well acquainted with these rejection posts I do. Usually I paste in the links with explanations for why I do this at the end but I’m putting that up here at the top this time, just to give the new folks some context! Read my initial post about this rejection quandary I had here and my patron’s idea about what to do about it here.

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It’s been such a weird year for applications and rejections. I applied to about a quarter of the things I applied to last year. First, because a lot of what I find to apply to are residencies and if a residency is running it is not likely to be particularly safe and I do not want to be taking those kinds of risks. Second, it’s weird to apply for playwriting things when there is no theatre. Oh, what? You’re going to produce those works on Zoom? Mmmm. That’s just…not for me. But – bright side? Doing a quarter of the applications means I only received a quarter of the rejections I got the year previously.

Anyway – here are some things I did apply for:

Little Island Perform in the Park – It’s a brand new totally constructed structure sort of pier park thing? Anyway – they’re looking to do performances in their theatre space there. I applied for our company to do Very Serious Theatre – which is totally built for public performance space. But they turned me down. Probably for the best. I don’t think we’ll have audiences back, even outdoors by summer. And I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to bring a group of people into a rehearsal studio round about now either.

The Shed – Another brand new performance space. What a time to open! Did they have a full year before all performances ceased? I don’t think so. Maybe. Anyway – at the very last minute I applied to do a socially distanced promenade sort of live version of The Dragoning. I learned about it a day before the deadline so I was just making things up as I filled it out. And I said so. Just because I didn’t have answers that I might have been able to craft more coded responses for with more time. So this rejection was not shocking in that a) The Shed is a super high profile new venue and b) that application was like throwing some soup ingredients at the wall and hoping some landed in a pot.

Theatre503 International Playwriting Award – They received 1719 scripts from 45 countries. And they let me know that I did not make it past the first round. Thanks guys. Thanks. How many plays make the first round? 1718? Doesn’t feel great! Thanks!

Center for Fiction’s Emerging Writer Fellows program – This one I feel less bad about because hey, fiction is new for me and I feel like, sure, there are people who’ve been doing it longer with more singularity of focus and what not. And they chose nine out of 870. So no surprise there.

Women’s Project Theater 2020 – 2022 WP Lab – They take 15 women. They didn’t say how many applied. I’m sure it’s a lot. I keep trying with this one but it is a lonnnnnng shot.

Dramatists Guild Playwriting Fellows – Such a long shot. Gotta try though!

The Playwrights Realm – Recommended to me by a playwright buddy. Gave it a shot. No dice. They had “nearly 700” submissions.

Playing on Air James Stevenson Prize – Another long shot. But worth a shot as it was free to apply. They received “nearly 950 plays” but they phrased it better in that my play “unfortunately did not advance to the Final Round this year.” See – they may not have actual rounds. But they make me believe that it somehow got through several rounds before finally being rejected before the final and I appreciate the illusion.

Also – the one Yes I got last year – for the Brooklyn Public Library podcast fair in the spring was postponed until October but of course it did not happen in October either and I never heard from them. I’m pretty sure they just threw up their hands and said, “Maybe another time.” And I do not blame them one bit for that. None of us want to be camped out at a booth or walking around inside a place for an evening right about now.

*Wondering why I’m telling you about rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

In quilting, we call these quarters. Depending on how they’re cut, they might even be fat quarters, which is somehow a fun combo of words to say. Speaking of quilting, the quilters of Gee’s Bend are on Etsy now so you should def check those out.

This post was brought to you by my patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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Want to be one of those people who palpably help me through all this rejection business?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

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Rejections in the Time of Corona

So – the rejections stopped for a little over a month after we went into lockdown but it would seem a month was as long as folks were prepared to wait to send out rejections. I’m guessing, at first, everyone thought this was so temporary, we should just wait on completing this submission process for stuff that probably won’t happen anyway.

Anyway – I was rejected from a short play festival in Canada, which I barely remember even applying for – and a something called Seven Devils, which I’d only recently found out about. It’s supposed to be pretty cool. This was my first rejection from them. It’s a curious one because it has this line: “You should know that our readers felt your work to be of particular merit.” I find a line like this curious because I want it to mean that I am very special. I want it to be something their readers really did feel. But I’m also aware that this is something that could be said to anyone. So – I find myself unable to really take it on board. I mean, I too find my work to be of particular merit but I’m not sure that does me much good.


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The Maurice Prize was a super specific Fiction writing contest for graduates of UC Davis. I have some complicated feelings about my time at UC Davis. Actually, they’re not that complicated, I had a miserable time. But I did make a few good friends there so I can’t throw the whole experience into the bottom of the ocean the way I’m tempted to. And if they gave me a bunch of money for my book, maybe I could turn my feelings about the place around!

They asked for a bound physical copy of the manuscript – which required me to print out, for the very first time, my novel. It was actually cool to see it as a solid object and even cooler once I’d paid Fed Ex to bind it for me. It was one of my last in-person errands before all this shut down. Oh for the days when I did not hesitate to go to Fed Ex or the post office!

Anyway – these days it is super unusual for anyone to ask for a printed manuscript but my grad school alma mater did and so I did it.

Two months later, they didn’t bother to send rejection letters. They just announced the winner and runner up in an email to all the alumni, instead!

So much for UCD working its way into my good graces one day!

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I have to say I was super impressed by how Jeremy O Harris did his playwriting grant through the Bushwick Starr. It was a straight up lottery, as I’m always asking for. I entered, right at the opening of it, and I did not win the lottery but that does not stop me from admiring how the whole thing went down. I’m sure it’s because Harris is a playwright who has been through this dance as many times as the rest of us.

*Wondering why I’m telling you about rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

This post was brought to you by my patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist 

You can find the podcast on iTunesStitcherSpotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotifymy websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Want to help me keep applying to stuff and one day see less rejection?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

Or buy me a “coffee” (or several!) on Kofi – ko-fi.com/emilyrainbowdavis



Three Months Worth of Rejections
March 25, 2020, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Rejections, theatre, writing | Tags: , , , , ,

Let’s pretend we’re not in a global pandemic and just get back to some regular routines, shall we? It’s not as if my hot takes on the arts in the pandemic are really getting a lot of traction. Also, I’ve been racking up the rejections and it’s probably time to go ahead and get them on out of here so I don’t end up with the world’s longest rejection post. (This MAY be the world’s longest rejection post.) The rejections don’t stop, even when the rest of the world does. So here they are.

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Bay Area Playwrights Festival said, in their rejection, not to say anything about our “status” until May but I think once someone’s rejected my work, they lose the ability to control how I talk about it. If it’s an acceptance and they don’t want folks bragging about it, fine – but if I’ve been rejected, our relationship is over. It’s my timetable now.

Anyway – it was super weird rejection and you can tell they felt super weird about sending out rejections in the middle of a global crisis. I get it.

But one of the things that was super weird about this rejection was how there were sections that were clearly form letter that seemed to be doing double duty for both acceptances and rejections. (Hence, the “don’t tell anyone your status.”) There was a whole list of instructions for going back to find previous communications to clarify their process. (Hot tip. I don’t care about any administrative process. I assume it’s a variant on “We read plays and then choose the ones we like” and that is sufficient for me.)

Anyway – there was this line about finding my play “inspiring and challenging” – which, if that was really their response, is very nice – but in an otherwise form letter, it feels like they say that to all the girls and therefore has no meaning, actually.

The whole thing was a fascinating lengthy mess. I’m guessing they’re a bit floored by the living room-pocalypse and so aren’t quite up to their usual game? I don’t know. This is only the second time I’ve applied to this thing. And the second rejection.

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Orlando Shakespeare Festival does not want my Comedy of Errors prequel for their new play festival. Alas.

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To no one’s surprise, I did not receive a residency with Guild Hall. I do admire their alacrity in responding to their applications, though. I applied in December and heard from them in January.

Unlike Play Penn to which I applied in September and heard from in January. I swear, the longer I’m in this game, the more I long for all these places to just do a lottery. To just throw all the names in a hat and pull out a few to get the goodies they’re offering. All these elaborate evaluating methods they use tend to only yield the same old results – with the same familiar faces getting the treats. A straight lottery would be so much more democratic. Would there be some stinkers? Sure. But there are stinkers now. Big deal. Lottery lottery lottery!

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I’ve received the rejection from the O’Neill that I’ve known was coming since December. I find that I’m feeling a fair amount of rage around it. Not that I’ve been rejected – lord knows that has happened before – but by a little rumor I read in a playwrights group on-line. The rumor was that the O’Neill puts a little PS at the end of the rejection letter if they particularly like a play. The PS is a kind of extra encouragement, I suppose. One writer said she didn’t get one the year before but did get one this year so she felt the quality of her work must be improving. So, of course, I had to check to see if I had a P.S. on my most recent letter. I did not. So I guess they hated this play.

I’ll have to check what happened in previous years, but this whole proposition makes me furious. Really? There’s a little code within the rejection letters to indicate extra approval? As if this whole process weren’t infantilizing enough, there’s also a middle school code to find out if the place likes us or really really likes us?! (But still not enough to produce us.)

I don’t know if this rumor is true but the possibility that it is is enough to infuriate me.

Look, I’m in a two rejection household this year. Everyone in my apartment received a rejection notice from the O’Neill this week and the letters are practically identical despite being from two different programs. The letters were already ridiculous. There’s a line about the O’Neill not being the home for this show. It has the flavor of
“We’re rejecting you for your own good. The O’Neill just isn’t right for you or your play. We want a better home for you.”

Mmmm – hmmmm. It’s best for ME not to receive the goodies you have to offer. Sure. Yeah. And I’m also better off not winning the lottery. The jackpot won’t feel at home in my apartment so they decided to send it somewhere else.

It’s all so…icky. Like. You don’t want to give me your goodies – don’t give them to me. It’s not that difficult. We’re not inviting you. We didn’t select you. Your play didn’t make the cut. There are a million straightforward ways to handle these rejections that do the job without suggesting it’s not you, it’s me.

And if this PS rumor is really a thing? Oh boy. What a dick move that is. Especially for rejection letters to writers. I mean, if there is a population more inclined to look for hidden meaning on a page full of words, I don’t know who it would be. It feels diabolical to me that there might be hidden messages in these rejection letters.

What do they think the P.S. will do? Oh, they extra like a play and so they add a P.S. to the boilerplate rejection? Does the playwright then feel extra encouraged and thereby write a better play next time? The net result is the same. The extra line of encouragement only makes the writer who got the PS last time feel bad when they don’t get it the next. That writer in the group felt her work must have improved because she got the P.S. this year. Two years ago, my Medusa play made it to the semi-finals. The last two got nothing. Is my work getting worse? I don’t think so. Taking this stuff to heart is an exercise in heartbreak and will be bound to shake one’s self-esteem. The fact that the organization, which already has a lot of power over theatre writers, may be indulging in games with its rejection letter makes me never want to apply again.

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I was on a wait list for the Millay Colony – but I went ahead and applied for the next round as it seemed like the chances were slim that I’d get the wait list call. It’s a lighter experience applying for something when you’ve had a small yes from them.

But that yes (or maybe) did not come a second time. I was rejected from the last round at the Millay. The deadline comes around again now. I guess I better give it another shot.

I tried applying for some playwriting stuff that’s apparently a big deal but I never heard of before. They took a while to get back to me but like everyone else the Great Plains Theatre Conference and Ashland New Plays said no.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

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New Dramatists?
Of course they said no.
But they said it on paper, so that’s a nice change of pace!

*Wondering why I’m telling you about rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

This post was brought to you by my generous patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Want to help me navigate the relentless waters of rejection?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

Or buy me a coffee on Kofi – ko-fi.com/emilyrainbowdavis



2019 – The Year in Rejections
December 29, 2019, 6:34 pm
Filed under: Rejections | Tags: , , , , , ,

As 2019 draws to a close, I have been reflecting on the submitting and rejectioning that has played a bigger part in my life than ever before. I didn’t reach my goal of 100 submissions/rejections – but I doubled my submissions from the previous year.
There were some months in which I submitted like mad (October) and others in which I submitted nothing (January).

Submitting to literary agents definitely helped increase my numbers. I think, if I’d kept up my fever pace of submitting, I’d have hit my 100 but I a) got weary of the rejections and b) realized that I wanted to re-write the opening chapter of my novel again. As every single agent wants their sample from the opening, I figured I ought to call the submitting to a halt while I overhauled the beginning. Again.

In the last few weeks, I’ve gotten quite a few rejections from literary agents I submitted to months ago. I’m guessing they’re all trying to clear their submission boxes before the end of the year. Sure feels great to be someone’s inbox clearance, doesn’t it?

Anyway – I was an applying maniac this year. I applied to some stuff even if I didn’t particularly want it. I have not yet decided if I’ll go at it quite as hard this coming year. I think I might take some time off in applying to residencies next year. It’s just so relentless to apply and pay another fee and get another rejection, year after year. The Omi residency (which I recently got a rejection for) I’ve applied to so many times and….nothing.

Speaking of residencies, I also received rejections from Tulsa and Dora Maar in mid December. I imagine they’re both pretty competitive as they’re both pretty desirable. Tulsa is an actual salary to go live in Tulsa for year to make art (downside? Living in Oklahoma?) and Dora Maar is to go make art in France (downside? No salary.)

Anyway – they both said no. Tulsa took three months to decide and Dora Maar took two months. I also got a rejection from Writing Between the Vines again and they only took two weeks to get that rejection done. I applaud their highly efficient rejecting service.

I tell you what, though, all I need is ONE of these places to say yes ONE TIME and I suspect it would up my chances to go to any of the rest of them exponentially. No one wants to take a chance on someone no one else has taken a chance on. I need to find the residency that’s the starter residency, the one where they take a chance on you and then open your doors for other places. I mean, I’ve had residencies but, it’s like, it needs to be a residency other residencies have heard of for them to see it as supportive of their chance taking.

But mostly, almost all these residencies charge substantial fees to apply. Between residencies and contests, I spent $672 on submission fees this year. If it weren’t for these rejection posts on Patreon, I would not have made that investment in application fees. It’s not a good or fruitful investment. At least it doesn’t seem like it from this angle. I’ll reapply to those residencies that waitlisted me – otherwise? I’m not sure it’s worth it.

But – you know, I didn’t hear from everything I applied to this year. So I suppose it’s possible I could still catch a break from one of these submissions. Here’s a list of all the places I still haven’t heard from as the year closes: an editor, Baltic Residency, Relentless Award, Berlin Writing Prize, Playwrights Horizons, New Dramatists, Bay Area Playwrights Foundation, Neo-Political Cowgirls, six literary agents, Great Plains Theatre Conference, Hodder Fellowship, PlayPenn, Millay Colony, O’Neill Playwrights Conference, Seven Devils, Buffalo Quickies, Ashland New Plays and Guild Hall. Sometimes no news is bad news, though. Many places just never tell you.

Anyway – if you’re still reading this account of the year in rejection – thank you! It’s continually a surprise to me how many people are on board for this part. I used to try and spare the people around me the pain of these things and I have been surprised at how up for going on this rejection ride some people can be. I look forward to it shifting one day – but meanwhile, thank you for going through it with me.

*Wondering why I’m telling you about rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

This post was brought to you by my generous patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Want to help me through the sea of rejection?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

Or buy me a coffee on Kofi – ko-fi.com/emilyrainbowdavis



The Magic of Pushing the Submit Button and Some Rejections

As soon as I hit submit, I realized there was more to the story than I’d submitted. The act of submitting the thing as a short story somehow made me realize that it was not so short. It was more like part one of a longer thing. Is it a novella? A play? It’s not clear to me yet. But it is the thing I’ve been most excited about for a few months now. It’s a piece of fiction/drama based on my dragon blog from a year ago and I have been enjoying working on it rather thoroughly. Probably by the time I type this, I will have finished it in its current form – which is, at around 30,000 words, quite a bit longer than a short story. So I guess it’s good I got that rejection notice for it from The Masters Review because it is no longer a short story and it has already changed forms dramatically and may change more as I continue to work on it. I’m going to do a reading as if it were a play and we’ll see if it is one.

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The other day, I found myself thinking, “Hurry up and send me some rejections already!” This is not because I’ve gotten so accustomed to rejections that I actually LIKE them now – it’s because I had that paragraph of a rejection all typed up and it was cluttering up my open documents. I was looking forward to clearing it but I didn’t want to post it without some rejection friends.

Well, my wishes came true and, in one day, I received a rejection from another literary agent (based on a 5 Page writing sample) and a rejection from Hedgebrook. Oh, Hedgebrook! I had such high hopes for you once! I dreamed that, as a residency for women, I might be more welcome there with my obviously feminist content. But – alas – I have applied and applied and applied and applied and not even a waiting list have I been placed upon.

I do, though, sometimes get random view on the blog of my previous Hedgebrook rejection posts. So I suppose it gives in mysterious ways. Even if it does cost me $30 every time I apply. Again.

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I applied for a residency in Tehran. I wasn’t 100% sure that made sense to do but I’ve got goals to meet this year so I did it. What’s hilarious, though, is that it was a specifically Performing Arts residency – a fact I’m sure I saw originally but then was nowhere further mentioned within the application. So I forgot it was a performing arts residency (since most of them aren’t) and applied with fiction – because sometimes fiction is more residency friendly.

I realized right after I submitted that I ought to have applied with a play instead of a novel, and I wrote to them to request access to my application to fix it – but they never responded. Until they wrote to reject me a couple months later. That is one rejection that was more expected than most.

*Wondering why I’m telling you about rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

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A Visit from The Rejection Fairy and The Missing Legitimacy Fairy

As I am, apparently, a glutton for punishment, I wrote another play for this Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries contest like I did last time. This new play is an interstitial Jane Austen style All’s Well that Ends Well. I think it’s pretty good. The people I read it with a few months ago thought so, too. One of the actors even called me a genius, which, you know, I liked very much.

So this play made it to the semi-finals – which is a nice mile marker on the submission marathon – and then this month, was rejected. When the rejection arrived I didn’t feel anything. When I get some rejections, I have an immediate heart-sinking sensation – a sudden wave of disappointment. This one felt like nothing at first. I just went, “Yeah. That’s logical. This play wasn’t really right for them. They probably couldn’t really do the style and it features way too many women for their company make-up.” And I moved on.

But as the day went on, I sank deeper and deeper into a funk. I was sometimes angry, sometimes hopelessly sad and sometimes self-flagellating. (“You should not have gotten your hopes up on this one. You knew it was foolish to imagine this would break you through. You’ve been burnt before. Don’t get too close to that fire of hope. Stop. Stop.”)

And it’s not about this particular no. This is the No that is triggering all this because I was pinning a hope or two on it. Whereas with other opportunities, I sort of apply and forget about them – this one, I’d set a little candle by it, metaphorically speaking. The candle got lit, I think, because the stakes of it are so life-alteringly high and because I have some ties to the organization. It’s a bit different from other things I apply for and so, of course, the rejection feels a bit different as well.

This particular opportunity, if one wins it, provides a production of the play and gives the writer more money than I’ve ever made in a year. Additionally, for me, it would also reunite me with my first theatrical employer and bring me back to my homeland. There’s a lot to be desired in there. But even more than the money and the homecoming and the production, winning a prize like that would offer the kind of legitimacy as a writer that I have never known. You win a thing a like that and no one can deny that you are an actual playwright.

Despite the fact that I’ve been writing plays for over twenty years, there is somehow no stamp of legitimacy on that aspect of my identity. Because I produced and directed my work myself, my plays are often seen as vanity instead of art.

So – what I think I am really mourning here through this loss, this latest rejection, is the hopelessness I feel at ever achieving legitimacy.

Now – what is legitimacy? Oh boy. Who knows?

If my MFA had been in Playwriting instead of Directing, would I be legitimate? I don’t really direct anymore – am I a legitimate director just because I have a master’s degree? I write plays constantly. Am I not a legitimate playwright just because few people want to produce my work but me?

I don’t know where the Legitimacy Fairy lives but I sure would like her to come visit and wave her wand over me. I know her magic doesn’t last for very long, even when she visits, but still – a visit would be nice.

Also, I must have really pissed off the Rejection Fairy because she’s over here almost every day, kicking up dust and making me cry.

If anyone knows the Legitimacy Fairy, would you make sure she has my address? In the case of this recent opportunity – I didn’t need the prize money (though of course I could use it) and I didn’t need the homecoming (though that would have been sweet) but I needed some legitimacy like nobody’s business and I’m running out of ways to imagine getting it.

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In my attempts to up my submissions/rejections, I applied for a lot of residencies this year. Two were almosts, which was nice but the Nos have been rolling in. I don’t have anything to really say about any of them. You reject me in the wrong season, you don’t even merit your own separate rejection post. Sorry. We received a record number of rejections this year we regret we cannot take on all of them. But farewell to Oak Springs Garden Foundation, Jan Michalski Foundation, Bloedel Reserve Creative Residency, Siena Art Institute and New Harmony.

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I got a rejection notice that did not state who it was from. It was signed The Submission team and the body of the letter/email was so generic, it really could have come from anyone. For a while there, I was submitting query letters almost every day so there was a long list of possible senders.

For a minute I thought I was going to have to reply to ask who it was – but then I noticed a legal notice at the bottom of their email and buried in at it was the name of the agency. Boy, they really make you work for those rejections, don’t they?

*Wondering why I’m telling you about rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

This post was brought to you by my generous patrons on Patreon.

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Applying to More Stuff Means More Rejections, Natch.
October 31, 2019, 12:41 am
Filed under: Rejections | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Because they don’t have deadlines, I’d gotten a little bit lax about submitting my book to literary agents. (Also, my fire for it kind of went out.) But I had a good chat with a fellow querying writer and it inspired me to get back to querying. Lately, I have been querying a new literary agent practically every day. I have found that habitualizing things is the only way to get stuff like this done.

I write everyday because I write every day. There are many other things that I do every day because I have set up that I do them every day. Querying literary agents can be one of those things.

If I can keep this up, I expect to reach my goal of 100 rejection notices this year before the year is out. But the question is CAN I keep this up?

The problem with this new habit is that it yields me a whole lot more rejections. Round about the fifth or sixth rejection, I sort of lost the will to keep doing this every day. I’m going to have to figure out a way to keep at it in bursts, I think.

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In other rejection news:

The Willapa Air rejection sent an email declaring some email trouble as the reason they were attaching their rejection rather than just sending it.

Just what I wanted – a two step rejection revealing process.

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I appreciate that the UCross rejection notice has the rejection right in the first line so I don’t even have to open the email to know it is a rejection. “We regret to inform you” is all I needed to know what was in there.

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I wrote a story about a circus because this contest wanted stories about circuses and it seemed like something I could do. So I did. Months after I submitted it, I still hadn’t heard anything so I went ahead and submitted that circus story to a publication with a ghost theme. (My circus story featured a lot of ghosts.) Still haven’t heard from the circus contest but the ghost publication has already sent their rejection notice.

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I entered a couple of writing contests for fiction. The Santa Fe Writers Project and Craft both sent their rejections recently. I had no expectation that I would win them but sometimes all the No can be a little bit relentless.

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*Wondering why I’m telling you about rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

 

This post was brought to you by my generous patrons on Patreon.

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Small Victories

I am so used to rejections that when I saw the email in my inbox, I thought, “I don’t think I can handle that rejection today.” So it took me a little minute to open it and read it and see that was actually an acknowledgement that the play is moving on to the semi-finals and woot!

Now – semi-finals are not particularly meaningful. It feels a little like I’m running a marathon and someone near the beginning of the route is cheering “You made it” but it’s only mile 5 of a 26 mile race. I haven’t quite MADE it but I am grateful for the acknowledgement and the support and the cheers. Usually when I get to mile 5, someone disqualifies me and I get pulled from the course. More than anything, it’s just so nice to receive good news rather than bad. And in a world with so much rejection, I have learned that I have to really celebrate the small victories as, generally, the big ones never come.

In other words, despite having run multiple marathons, I’ve never made it to the last mile. I get all the sweat, all the strain, all the effort but I never get the medal. And I don’t need a medal but I would like to get to the end of a race one of these days.

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In more actual not bad news, I am now an alternate for the Djerassi Residency. It falls into the category of a small victory – not as good as an actual acceptance, of course – but an encouraging bit of progress. I particularly appreciate where this encouragement is coming from because I did not think I stood a snowball’s chance in hell of getting this residency since it’s a fairly high prestige one. AND – and I did not know this when I applied – it was started (and named for) the guy who invented the birth control pill. I’m pretty tickled by that legacy. It would be pretty cool to go write some feminist theatre in a place created by a guy who did so much to help liberate women.

This is my second wait list this year. The first was for the Millay Colony which I’ve been applying to for years. So a Maybe there felt like a big win as well. I suppose I still MIGHT be able to go – it was for this winter – but I think that ship has probably sailed by now. Anyway – since this year has been a couple of Maybe/Almost, I’m hopeful that next year might become the Year of Yes.

But meanwhile, here are some more rejections:

Bemis and Newtown Rejections

I applied for so many residencies this year – and a lot of them were new ones – so I have ZERO memory of what this Bemis one is. I didn’t get it, of course. But if I had, I’d have had a much clearer idea of what the heck I’d applied for.

My rejection from Newtown Literary is a first in that I don’t think I had every submitted a short story to anything before and literary magazines are pretty far out of my wheelhouse. Submitting short stories has a sort of different flavor than submitting plays and novels. You know that they probably at least read the whole thing. That is, at least, the saving grace. You were rejected on the whole thing not an excerpt or selection.

I have been starting to write more short fiction – not for strategic reasons – just because stories are emerging more often. But it is smart strategically, too. I’m given to understand.

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The Julie Harris Playwriting Award is one of the few remaining paper submissions. And they ask for a full printed play, which no one asks for anymore. Every play I submit to stuff has a collection of files of varying lengths – the 10 page, the 15 page, the 20 page, the 30 page. I don’t really know why digital submissions can’t just ask for the whole play. If they only want to read 15 pages, that’s their business. It would save me a whole lot of trouble to not have to make multiple files for all the plays. But I digress.

The Julie Harris asks for a full printed play. Which is a whole different animal. And, in the end, rather expensive to mail. On top of the submission fee, it ended up costing as much to submit to them as some of the more fee heavy residencies.

But the rejection letter was actual paper, which I always appreciate. I like having an object I can crumble or tear if I want to. I didn’t. I will just file it in the rejection file. But I like knowing I COULD crumble it if I wanted to. And when I get enough of them, maybe I’ll do some rejection papier mache.

*Wondering why I’m telling you about rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

 

This post was brought to you by my generous patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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Want to help me celebrate the small victories?

Become my patron on Patreon. They get all my good news before anyone else. 

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If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

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