By CL Bledsoe
Years ago, when I was married, my then-wife had an idea. One day she was watching me sort my mail into little piles; one for bills, one for junk, one for rejection letters from literary journals. It was a particularly busy day, and I’d received several responses from various journals.
“You have too many books,” she said out of nowhere. I nodded and opened a letter.
“You need more shelves,” she added.
“Too expensive,” I said. “Hey, they signed this one.”
“Try Goodwill, or the Salvation Army.”
“Still too expensive,” I said. “Unless I get the really cheap ones that look terrible.”
“Maybe we could repaint them, or something.”
I opened another rejection letter. “This one says, ‘Thanks for the Read’. Guess
that’s good.” I tossed the letter into the growing pile. “What I need is somewhere to put all these,” I said.
“Why don’t you throw them away?”
I paused. “Sentimental value, I guess,” was all I could think to say. I have a folder that I keep all my rejection letters in, but it really seems a waste of space. I keep all the important information on a file on my computer, but I still hold on to those letters. I guess I must think that maybe some morning I’ll wake up and they’ll all have transformed into gold.
“I’ve got an idea. How many rejection letters do you have?” She asked.
“I don’t know. A lot.”
“We could decoupage a shelf,” she said.
Thus it began. We found an ugly old bookcase at Goodwill, about 2 feet wide by 2 1/2 feet tall, and covered it in a medium body gloss gel glaze we found in the paint section at Hobby Lobby. Then we arranged some of my older rejection letters on one shelf, and put another layer of gel over it. We made a collage of the letters, turning them every which way and tearing some of them to make them fit however we chose. The medium body gel dries clear and holds the texture, so we were able to see the brush strokes. Then we used tinted gel to make each shelf a different color. Blue, pink, purple, green, yellow; the bookcase resembled one of Warhol’s celebrity paintings.
So now I’ve shelved my rejection letters. But rejection letters are an ever-amassing product. We found, after we’d used all of them up, that they just keep coming in. We decided to use them to cover a lamp, first the shade, then the body. We’ve been eying a coffee table, and hope eventually to decorate an entire room (the rejection room) in rejection letter decoupage furniture, or to start getting published.