Generally, rejection sucks. Rejection is also really (REALLY) common for writers. Combine those two facts together and two things become clear: 1) Authors have a lot more bad business days than good ones; 2) Authors have good cause for all that whisky-soaked sorrow drowning we’re famous for.
I’ve discovered there are three tiers of rejection when you’ve sent an unsolicited short story or manuscript out. First, there’s the form rejection (Something to the effect of: Thanks for letting us read your work. We would appreciate if you don’t bother wasting the electricity required to send us an email in the future. The globe is warming, you know. If you’re not foaming at the mouth from the utter rage of our impersonal response, consider subscribing to our magazine. Only $79.00 for two issues!). Second, there’s the personal rejection (Usually something the likes of: Hey, your work is really good and I enjoyed reading it, but we just couldn’t fit it in/it’s not quite right for us. Consider making changes X, Y and Z. Good luck getting it published elsewhere. I really hope you submit to us again in the future.). Those second tier rejections feel not quite soul crushing. It’s enough encouragement to believe that MAYBE you’re good enough to get something published in the next decade.
Then there’s tier three, which I didn’t know existed until I received the following email from a very kind fiction editor the other day. I would just like to offer a very public Internet thank you to this editor. Your notes of encouragement, even in rejection, count for a lot. (For the record, the racial issues mentioned live with some very awful, immoral characters and I stand by how I wrote the story, but there was an immense amount of offensive conduct and I understand why some publications would hesitate to print the story).
This is one of the hardest letters I have had to write in a long time. I thought “[REDACTED]” was brilliant, but it is going to have to be a no for us.
This piece generated so much (heated) discussion. We brought it to the table twice. People were either in love with it or completely offended by it. As fiction editor, I wanted it very much and I went to bat for it, but other editors were concerned that the racial issues, especially the Asian accent dialogue, would be too much for [REDACTED].
Please send us something else. Our next reading period opens in January, but if you like, you can attach a word doc in an email at this email address at any time and I will hold it.
I laughed out loud in several parts, as did others I read the piece to. I am sure it will find a home, and I am sorry it won’t be with us.
[REDACTED], Fiction Editor
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