Oct 7, 2017: I’m at one of my favorite conferences, the ALTA (American Literary Translators Association) conference in Minneapolis, and I was just on a plan about “Using Literary Magazines Well.” We talked a lot about how translators can use literary magazines to get promote and advocate for the author they are translating (and hopefully eventually get a contract to translate said author’s book), but we also discussed the nuts and bolts of submitting, including dealing with rejection. I explained my strategies for finding magazines to submit to, and as part of that talk I handed out this: Submitting to Literary Magazines Handout. And afterwards it dawned on me that that handout might be a nice thing to share with the world as well. So if you are interested in submitting and/or in finding more resources for submitting to literary magazines, feel free to download and share.

Sept 15, 2017: A whole season has come and gone, and in that time I’ve been rejected so many times. I’ll just give you the highlights: Tinhouse just last week rejected a story of mine after waiting a year to respond. They apologized for the long delay and said they are trying to improve their submission processing. I also got a detailed rejection of that same story from Subtropics. Encouraging rejections for poems from The Adroit Journal and Bennington Review and straight-up rejections for poems from Copper Nickel and Salt Hill Review. BUT, one poem accepted by Puerto del Sol (it will appear in December), and I also had a baby, and she continues to accept me unconditionally, which is nice.

Feb 4, 2017: I haven’t posted in a while, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped getting rejected. Recent rejections for poetry include Plume Poetry Journal, Passages North, Ninth Letter, Gulf Coast and the Indiana Review--TWICE (they rejected me once in October but encouraged me to send them more work, so I did, and then they rejected me again in December). I got an encouraging rejection for a story from A Public Space (one of my dream journals), which was nice, but nicest of all was that, just a little over a week ago, I got news that my manuscript, Mine, WON the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize (judged by Andre Dubus III) and will someday soon become an actual book (published by U of NM Press). This (THIS!), my friends, makes all the years of rejections worth it. The Indiana Review can reject me twenty times if they like, as long as every once in a while I get news like this.

Oct 11, 2016: Lots of rejections as the summer ends and fall begins. My most recent ones include flat-out rejections from Ninth Letter (poetry), Ploughshares (poetry), The Journal (poetry), Lunch Ticket (fiction), and Copper Nickel (fiction). I also got some encouraging rejects from Indiana Review (poetry), Gulf Coast (poetry), West Branch (fiction), and One Story (fiction). On the “Yay Acceptances!” side, I had an essay accepted by the Gettysburg Review, a story by Hobart, and a poem by RHINO.

Sept 27, 2016: I have a craft essay out today on Essay Daily, one of my favorite sites for writings about the essay. It’s about hybrid bodies (mostly my own pregnant one) and hybrid works. Read it here.

June 19, 2016: The Orlando shooting last week left me depressed and angry and sure about only one thing: I needed to write. I should have been preparing for my qualifying exams in a month and a half, but I decided to spend a couple days essaying instead. The Oxford American published my response essay this past Friday online. Publishing this doesn’t make anything better, or make what happened any more understandable, but writing has helped me figure out my own feelings and thoughts about this national tragedy. The essay is here if you want to read it.

May 28, 2016: We’re in Iowa City for the summer, which is lovely. It’s nice to be a city with so many writers again. In other news, I forgot to mention last month the publication of a number of works. Most exciting is the ebook publication of my translation of Federico Falco’s novella Cielos de Córdoba (Cordoba Skies) by Ploughshares Solos. I love this little book and am super excited to be part of its new life in English. Also, I published my first poems at AGNI. They’re basically essays in that they’re “true” and they’re about figuring something out, but I guess we can call them poems because they’re written in form (and really really in form: a sonnet and a poem written in terza rima). Lastly, the Iowa Review published my essay “Advice Me,” which is a strange, monstrous essay I’d been working on for years about call-in advisors, learning Spanish, and falling in love with my (now) wife. In the rejection world, there have been too many to list. After that initial acceptance by AGNI, my other poems have been flat-out rejected by every other place I’ve sent them (about 12 and counting). I’ve also had some nicer rejections (but still rejections) for stories, poems, and essays from the Missouri Review, Ploughshares, and the Cincinnati Review.

Feb 28, 2016: I’m leaving Jack Kerouac’s house tomorrow. I’ve been in this cute little bungalow for three months. It’s where he lived when On the Road was published and he was finishing Dharma Bums. The residency is really lovely. Lots of quiet time to write, lots of literary events to attend in the evenings, lots of lakes to walk to when you need a break from writing or people. I recommend it to any of you writers out there. Here I am at my farewell reading this past Saturday.


Dec 18, 2015: My essay, “Wolf Biter” which appeared in the most recent issue of The Normal School will also be included in a forthcoming anthology of essays on the body edited by Stephanie G’Schwind, who is also the editor of the Colorado Review. I’ll post more details here when I know them.

Dec 16, 2015: I read at the fundraiser for Sweet:A Literary Confection in Tampa tonight alongside founding editor Ira Sukrungruang, the poet and editor Gianna Russo, the graphic essayist and book designer R. Claire Stephens, and others. CWb-qnZWEAArV5IIt was super fun and a nice way to support such a great online magazine. They’re holding an online fundraiser now to help them start paying writers and expand their reach, so if you want to donate, go here.

Dec 6, 2015: I’ve arrived at the Kerouac House in Orlando, Florida, where I’ll be spending the next three months as part of their writer-in-residence program. It’s super nice here. The house is lovely, has great light and lots of places to write, and the literary community here in Orlando is surprisingly vibrant. Looking forward to getting lots of writing done in the coming months.

Dec 2, 2015: Some recent rejections: VQR, Black Warrior Review (but a finalist for their nonfiction contest), Granta, The Paris Review (but asked to send more work!), The Gettysburg Review. One recent acceptance: Sweet:A Literary Confection. Still waiting to hear from tons of more places, so I’m sure there will be more rejections to post soon…

Oct 30, 2015: Had a great time moderating the panel “From the Newsroom to the Workshop” with fellow nonfiction writers Inara Verzemnieks, Harrison Fletcher, Jennifer Latson at this year’s NonfictioNow conference in Falgstaff, Arizona.

Oct 9, 2015: My essay on covering an ex-gay conference many years back in Houston is now up at Read it here.

Sept 24, 2015: My essay, “A Ballad for You” is now up at storySouth, a really great publication with a super editor. Read it here.

Sept 20, 2015: Some recent rejections: Ninth Letter, Hobart, Word Riot, and Rattle. Some recent acceptances: The Iowa Review,, and Triquarterly.

Aug 3, 2015: And now news that my first short story has been accepted, too. Yipee! It will appear in the October issue of Juked.

July 27, 2015: I just found out my first published poems will appear in the spring issue of AGNI (a magazine that’s rejected my essays at least three times).

July 5, 2015: An essay I wrote about lesbian parenting and the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage is now up at Guernica.

April 27, 2015: I’m super excited that my essay “Wolf Biter” will appear in the Fall 2015 issue of The Normal School.

Feb. 8, 2015: I’m pleased to announce that my translation of Federico Falco’s novella Cielos de Córdoba (Cordoba Skies) will be published by Ploughshares Solos in the Spring of 2015.


  1. Dear Sarah, I find your blog thoroughly stimulating, especially the “ease” with which you deal with rejection and the amount of submissions you have to make in order to get the acceptances. I need this kind of inspiration. I tend to belittle even the “good” rejection letters, i.e. the one from Missouri Review which seems to have been written by an undergrad intern still struggling with the terminology of fiction. I look forward to reading Mine. Congratulations on the win from a former loser.

    1. Thanks, Judy, I think it’s really important for us to share our rejections as well as acceptances. I was inspired to do so by a writer who visited my MFA program when I was younger and very candidly shared her rejection to acceptance ratio with us (32:1, despite the fact that she was a really successful writer). Best of luck with your writing.

  2. Congratulations on your River Teeth selection. I was in the competition with you with my memoir “Busy Being Born: How and Why I Became a Vietnam-Era Draft Resister.” Your book sounds quite interesting, and I look forward to reading it. I am also getting a kick out of your posting of the rejections you’ve received. I need to be a little more light hearted about that issue, so thanks for the push. Again, congratulations. And good luck.-Daniel

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