Airing Out

“I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.” – Sylvia Plath

For nine months, I’ve kept a box sealed up in my apartment. I brought it with me from Arizona last summer. Inside, tucked in between old manuscripts and saved letters is a small, neat stack of rejections. Some came in the mail; most by email. I printed each of them out and used to have them thumb-tacked to a bulletin board that hung near my desk in my old office.

When I moved into my new place, I placed the bulletin board behind the bedroom door, unseen. The rejections from literary journals, websites and writing competitions stayed in their box. I taped it shut and was tempted to leave it like that. It’s so much easier to ignore them than to face them each day.

But this week, there was a change in the weather. The first tease of a Washington summer brought blue skies and warmth — and a strange idea. My musty, cavelike apartment needed to be aired out. I threw open the windows and doors to let the space breathe. And the fresh air must have gone to my head.

I grabbed a knife and started cutting through the packing tape on the boxes I had left sealed and stacked in a corner. I went looking for my rejections. Because just like my apartment, they need to be dusted off. I realize now that I need to see them. No one likes to think about their failures, but I need to be reminded of how far I’ve come and far I still have to go. I need to face rejection and use it to propel me to improve, not bury it in a box to be forgotten.

Maybe I’ll hang the bulletin board up and pin the rejections where I can see them while I write. Maybe I’ll print off my recent rejection notices. Maybe it will hurt to read them. Maybe that will spur me onward.

— 30 —

Jonny Eberle is a writer in Tacoma, WA. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a comment below. How do you deal with rejection? Tell me your secrets!

Published by Jonny Eberle

Writer, photographer, blogger and filmmaker in the City of Destiny. You can find my blog at

4 thoughts on “Airing Out

    1. Agreed. I think we can all agree that there’s nothing more satisfying than wrestling a couple of meese to the ground. It’s a challenge, but it’s worth it.

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