My New York Times Rejection Letter

Nov 6:  I was kind of freaking out since my last blog post because everyone who follows our blog now knows I wrote some stories and have this delusional idea that they are good enough to get published.  Self doubt and fear were creeping in and I teetered between wanting to move out of state and hide my face or deciding to dedicate 5 gazillion blog posts to words about how people should go for things even if they’re scared.

Instead, I’ll tell you about a YouTube video I watched, but just know that facing fears is the worst-best thing ever and this blog has changed my life.

Now, back to the video.  I watched a video which was an interview with a writer who talked about “writers flow.”  He compared “writers flow” to “runners high.”  I could totally relate and started uncomfortably and over confidently identifying myself as a real writer.  He said in order to get to runners high you start running and hate it, and then there’s pain and sweat, and then there’s a point where you think you might die, and then runner’s high comes on and you feel you could run forever.  Before writers reach their “flow,” there’s some pain and sweating and doubt and thinking you might die before you get in a zone and crank out thousands of words.

And back on the point about facing fears….people….just do it.  Go for the gusto!  Do the thing you’ve been talking about for years.  It feels SO uncomfortable but do it anyways.  And then immediately email me when you decide to do it so I can cheer you on.

Nov 7:  I took out the red pen today.  Literally, I got a red pen out and started marking up the printed copy of my manuscript.  (Ah, I said “manuscript”).  I consolidated all my stories into 1 word doc (because I learned quickly it’s easier to manage them all as separate word docs) and sent it to FedEx to be printed (is Kinkos no longer their name…I feel like they’re just FedEx but I’m not sure?).  Anyway, I submitted the order online and picked it up the next day and have had it sitting on our side table in our living room for a week before I really dove in.  I edited some of the smaller stories and decided to come to grips with the fact that I’m going to New York even though the book isn’t done.

Nov 8:  I spent far too much time researching the top 20 restaurants in New York today and buying jeans in a larger size for the trip since writing is a sitting sport.  I don’t want to talk about it.

Nov 9:  I received a rejection letter from the New York Times – Modern Love section today.  As mentioned in my previous post, it’s recommended that new authors submit essays to popular magazines and newspapers to get your name out there and entice editors to publish you otherwise (as if writing a book itself isn’t time consuming enough).  I (over) researched the Modern Love section and thought it would be a perfect home for an essay I was calling “30 Love Letters in 30 Days” (a synopsis of my May 2015 where I wrote handwritten letters for this blog).   So 1,700 words later I was submitting it and crossing my fingers as I knew there was only a 1% chance of getting in (literally, 1% based on the number of submissions they receive each week) and I knew it would take approximately 2 months to hear back.  Why does writing require so much patience?!?!  Doesn’t this industry know I want everything now?! <insert Varuca Salt voice>.

I submitted the essay on 9/27, so I can actually say they stayed true to their word and responded in less than 2 months.

The rejection went as so…..

Dear Brooke Hocker,

Thank you for sending your writing to Modern Love. Although I don’t find your essay right for our needs, I’m grateful for the opportunity to consider it. I regret that the volume of submissions we receive makes it impractical for me to offer editorial feedback. 

Best wishes,

Daniel Jones, Modern Love editor

The rejection didn’t bother me at all because #1 I had planned to use the essay in my book if they didn’t publish it and #2 I got a note from the New York Times!  It was a rejection note, but still, if this Gals With Goals blog didn’t exist and my book goal never emerged and my research on publishing never happened, I would’ve never even submitted a piece to such a large publication.  I look at it as a win.  I do plan to submit to other publications too once the New York trip is behind me.

In other news – hop on over to Angela’s Gals With Goals blog posts this month.  Her goal is to spend the month of November serving others.  Timely for the season!