Great Rejections

Having served as an editor of a “little” magazine for four years, rejections don’t bother me (though acceptances are preferred, of course). The number of annual submissions of stories and essays number in the many hundreds for some literary magazines and in the thousands for others. The editor’s taste or recent acceptances or length or annoyance over one thing or another  — main character carries same name as terrifically annoying neighbor — may spell rejection for reasons having little to do with the actual quality of the story.

So when a rejection slip arrives with handwriting on it, my mood shifts from “Fine.” to “Great!” A few days ago, a familiar envelope was returned, but inside, on the small green sheet with the printed “no thanks” message, someone took the time to write:

“But there’s much to be admired here. Please try us again in the future.”

These are words to love because editors are very busy people. During my editing time, I rarely paused to write such messages, and when I did, I meant it. I will indeed send something again, WHR. Thank you.

This message reminds me of the “best” rejection letter ever. It was hand-written by the late, great Stan Lindberg of The Georgia Review. They, he said, liked my writing very much, but after several readings, the story seemed to be two stories. I still have the rejection somewhere, and I have the story somewhere, still waiting to be split. It might be a good season to do that.


About Carolyn

I live in Washington, D.C., write, teach, try to eat the requisite fruits and veggies daily, and avoid caffeine after 2 pm. I wonder about things a lot -- like why "pretty" means "pretty" and "not so much" and if I can ever perfect the single-portion, no-knead, daily baguette and how many people realize that Beau Brummel had a lot to do with our desire to bathe daily -- those of us who do in fact "take the daily."
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