I had a run of good luck broken today. For several Fridays in a row, I'd received acceptance letters from several fine journals. Today, upon arriving home, three SASEs awaited me, along with their three rejection letters, all nicely phrased and with several encouraging notes.
Over the years, I've developed my own elaborate system for handling these things, and I've been thinking about how my rituals help keep my ego's skin so thick. First, I leave the SASE until the end of the mail opening process. It lingers there on the desk, a flickering possibility. When my eyes happen to graze the postmarked stamp (always something more fun and interesting than a flag or a bell), I repeat to myself "It's a rejection. It's a rejection." This softens the blow when, as in most cases, it actually is a rejection, and it makes me doubly delighted when the opposite is true.
Once the results have sunk in, I go to my files and my spreadsheets and record the transaction. That's what it is, after all, a transaction. I've offered up something I believe others might value. Just because one particular editor says "no thanks," doesn't mean there isn't a home to be found for the poem elsewhere. By the time I get done filling in the cells on the spreadsheet, I'm able to take a step back and remind myself that it's nothing personal.
Tomorrow being Saturday, the mail will run, and like playing the lottery, there's always a chance for more good news.