I had a poetry professor in grad school, a man who regularly receives national recognition, who taught himself to overcome the fear of rejection by scrapbooking all the rejection slips his poetry received. He stopped at 500.
Ask my family, and they will tell you I am almost obsessed with getting the mail. Most of the time, it's bills and ads for Kohls. But every so often, there's my handwriting on the envelope, and my heart leaps. A SASE! A response from a magazine! And for a moment, I think "Do I want to know?" I do not save my rejection slips, thought I do duly report the results on a spreadsheet. For a while, I went through a rash of kind rejections with handwritten notes from editors. In January, one editor was kind enough to tell me that a story was "totally publishable;" it just didn't fit with the overall collection.
And yet, 2013 is off to a good start. January saw two poems accepted and three rejections. One of those acceptances was my poem "Sunday's Theme," which appeared in this week's edition of America Magazine. February so far has seen one rejection (of the "we're totally inundated with limited need for poetry" variety) and one acceptance in Holy Cow!'s October 2013 anthology The Heart of All That Is: Reflections on Home. Writing is such a solitary endeavor, often with little feedback; moments like these spur me on to send out more. And of course, every day I watch the mail.
Keep up the good writing, folks.