I connected with the writer Jac Jemc when she published my personal essay, “Soul Retrieval in the Southwest,” in Hobart. She has a wonderful blog which she uses to list the rejection letters she receives, and looking over it has been encouraging for me. Jemc has a way of turning rejection into optimism and continued persistence, and reading over even a few of her posts makes me want to plunge even more deeply into writing and getting my work out there. It also makes me want to be more open about my own rejections.

Today, I received a rejection from the magazine Sundog Lit for one of the short stories I plan to use in my collection about post-war Sarajevo. The editors said that they weren’t sure that the story ultimately landed in the right place but that they loved my style and the lush quality of my writing, describing it as having a “wonderful emphasis on small personal interactions.” They encouraged me to submit again soon.

I was touched and grateful for the note — I’ve received five other rejections in the last week which were impersonal — and I was left both excited to continue working on my collection and encouraged to submit more work to them specifically. In a world of slush piles on editors’ desks, personal compliments are like a teacher’s caring hand. Later this week, I plan to take Sundog Lit’s invitation to submit again and send them a personal essay which describes a mortifying incident I had at a summer camp in Spain.