Rejected by The Paris Review

David W. Berner, The Writer Shed
The Writer Shed
Published in
3 min readMay 28, 2024

Joining the the cult of writers who were told “no thanks.”

An email from The Paris Review

My writing has been rejected hundreds of times. And now I’ve been rejected by one of the best: The Paris Review.


Why celebrate this rejection? First, let’s consider the whole idea of being rejected.

It is the norm. If you take on writing as a serious endeavor, be ready for it. It’s going to happen far more than being accepted. Far more than you like. Mostly it’s a numbers game and a very subjective process, but still, it’s there staring back at you.

What you need to understand about rejection:

  1. It doesn’t always mean that your writing is not worthy, or that it’s bad. It may simply be that your story is similar to one already recently published by the journal, or that the publisher is currently looking for stories about women and yours is about men. All of these subtle issues can mean the difference between rejection and acceptance and have little to do with your ability as a writer.
  2. Thousands of essays, stories, and book manuscripts are rejected every day by every publication and every publisher. And so, acceptance is very much a game of numbers. Sometimes submitting to a mid-range publication and not something like The Paris Review, gives one a better chance simply because fewer writers are submitting. But of course, nothing is guaranteed. Ever.
  3. The more you’re rejected, the better it gets. You understand it more. You find a kind of comfort in knowing that you are out there pushing your work. That’s the positive here and despite rejections, you must not quit submitting. If you do, rejection wins.

I’ve been lucky enough to have editors accept my work. But I recall the days when nothing, I mean nothing was being accepted. Some of this was my inexperience. Some of it was misinterpreting the wants and needs of publications and editors. But in time, I received my first “yes,” the one I was looking for. And, as it many times does, the “yeses” came more often after that. Part of this was because I got better at the process, but also because I did not stop. I kept at it.

Write. Write. Write. Submit. Submit. Submit.

A few years ago, I would never have imagined sending anything to The Paris Review. There were many reasons for this. But now, I have and although the rejection was not a surprise, it stung a bit. Still, I did it and I will do it again. It’s a cliche, but yes, you will never be accepted if you don’t submit.

Stay courageous. Be patient. Accept feedback. Don’t stop writing.

I know I have grown as a writer over my many years of publishing. Reading my first book and reading my most recent, proves this. But each book, each essay and short story that finds a home is of its own particular and unique time. It is a product of that moment. And that is also part of the progression of a writer that can eventually lead you to acceptance. If you stop writing, stop growing, or stop submitting, of course, you will never see your work in print. And down deep, you know that is not what you want.

So, thank you, The Paris Review. And keep an eye out for me, please. I’ll be sending you something new one of these days very soon.

David W Berner is the author of several books of award-winning fiction and memoir. He has taught writing at the university level and is currently an instructor at Gotham Writers, New York.



David W. Berner, The Writer Shed
The Writer Shed

Award-winning writer of memoir and fiction. Creator of Medium publication: THE WRITER SHED and author of THE ABUNDANCE on Substack..