Big brown envelopes in the mailbox or email rejections are mere reminders that you are in process. A steady stream of submissions makes the wait, and weight of each rejection seem less. Because I don't know editors personally, I don't take rejections that way.
These come back under four months - quick in submission land. You recieve handwritten feedback - constructive comments and encouragement to send more work. Some magazines have enough readers to give feedback every time, very cool. Good rejections say your story "was a near miss". So take another look, tweak, and submit elsewhere. Send the almost-made-it-publication a fresh story, and give thanks for the feedback. I keep a file of good rejections to boost spirts when low which happens a lot.
These comprise the majority of rejections and come back six to eight months after submitting. A bad rejection is the ever popular form letter/card that reads, "there was too much competition this time," or "your work is not in tune with our style". They offer you a subscription when you already have one. You pull your story from its SASE and it looks suprisingly fresh for having travelled across the country and back. I'm sure all stories get read, but one can't help to wonder.
These come in the mail a year or more after you've submitted, or you never hear back. Ugly rejections contain disparaging remarks, tell you not to quit your day job. Ha. A writer never quits his day job. My stories have been called "weak, thin, and insignificant" by editors. A friend recieved a rejection from a magazine he has no recollection of submitting to. Huh? Ernest Hemingway was rejected with, "It would be extremely rotten taste, to say nothing of being horribly cruel, should we want to publish it". (The Torrents of Spring).
Do you have a good, bad, or ugly tale of rejection? What do you do with your rejections?
More ugly rejections to famous writers