Sunday, January 27, 2008


Maybe someone can tell me the proper Greek-derived word, by analogy with "philately," for the collecting of rejection slips. As you can see, there are some rare ones here--half of these publications no longer exist, and the other two have changed almost beyond recognition from what they were then. The collection, of which these represent maybe a quarter, was assembled between 1969 and 1971. The collector, a budding writer in his mid-teens, was too timid to submit his work to magazines until one day he saw, in some underground newspaper, a full-page montage composed of rejection slips. The writer who received them was terribly disillusioned and certain he was being silenced by the establishment.

Our teenage writer paid this no mind, concentrating instead on how cool the slips were as objects. He proceeded to send work out hither and yon, irrespective of quality or suitability, and collected rejection slips like baseball cards. Some were as perfunctory as errata slips, some as exquisite as bookplates, some handwritten in purple ink and some scrawled in pencil. What did him in after a time wasn't rejection but near-acceptance--on four separate occasions Rolling Stone informed him they were publishing something, only to then reject it by the next post, after the boy had already thrown himself a little party in his head. Well...people did smoke pot at their desks in those days, so editorial decisions may have been a bit aleatory. In any event, he stopped making cold submissions thereafter, and when his writing career finally got going, over a decade later, he was determined to work strictly on assignment. He still likes rejection slips as objects, however. But without a name to apply to the hobby of collecting them, how can he locate the swap meets and conventions?