Some interesting observations on the role of the editor by Jeff Shotts (Graywolf Press):
The first thing to be said is: by practicing this art, you will disappoint, can only disappoint, you will always always disappoint. Your most practiced rejection, however worded, however encouraging you fashion it to be, is still a rejection. It is still a disappointment…
Another thing I can say: take no pleasure in practicing the art of rejection. Take no satisfaction in disappointing someone. Do not mock, do not assume an authority, do not enjoy writing such a letter. You embarrass the art of rejection, let alone the role of the editor by doing so.
I’m not so sure about how much of a “disappointment” receiving a rejection is. I certainly felt more of a “pang” when I first started getting rejections, but it was more about having failed to write something good enough to be accepted than about being disappointed that the poem(s) hadn’t been taken.
This “pang” kept decreasing to the point where right now I basically assume I’m getting rejected and other than a vague sense of how little progress I am making with my poetry, I “feel” nothing as I resubmit the rejected poems.
For all of 2011 and 2012 I was rejected 72 times with no acceptances. In 2013 I had 5 acceptances and 70 rejections. I make my rejection rate out to 96.6% … and counting.
But of course there is no other way to get acceptances than to rack up the rejections and keep on submitting.