What’s a writing blog without commentary on rejection letters, or rejection “notes” or in some cases, rejection “subscription forms?” Howard Junker, Zyzzyva, does this last one: It’s clever really, a sort of soothe-your-wounded-ego-by-buying-yourself-a-subscription approach. My favorites are the letters that suggest that I try another lit mag, which they then name, so I have a concrete lead for sending the piece out again. My least favorite so far has been a slip of paper, about 2×2, with a printed message–Thanks for sending. We’re not interested at this time– which pained me particularly because I sent it to the editor in chief, who had once judged a contest and awarded me first prize (which I did mention in the cover letter) and there was no acknowledgment or any recognition. Oh well. People are busy; I see that.
Accumulating rejection notices in one form or another has become my primary creative writing activity lately. But getting one in the mail means I had the courage to send out something I’ve written, (and I remembered to include a SASE!) so I’m pretty proud of that. I am reading so many really interesting stories that have been entered in the Narrative Fiction Contest that somehow fall just short of the publishable mark: A good story is tempered by clumsy dialogue or an over-complicated (or over-simplified) narrative point of view. Sometimes a really great writer with a polished style tells a story that’s just been overdone. Sometimes I love a story and think it is really close to perfect and I send it up to the next level, my “promote-to editor.” Then, in a nicely crafted note to me, he tells me why he failed to promote it. So it amazes me that I can muster the courage to send anything out. The competition is amazing.
The bar is set really high for publishing, which it makes it all the more special to see my friends and colleagues get in. Congratulations to Peter, who just had two publishers fighting over his memoir. And kudos to Jen for her latest acceptance, and to Jordan, whose poetry is always being accepted somewhere.
Right now, I have pieces out for two contests and a third out as a general submission. I’m about due for some good news.
You said: “The competition is amazing. The bar is set really high for publishing.”
If you’re saying this, I’m truly terrified. Sometimes I wish I could John Malkovich your brain and read the stuff you’ve been poring over. But that might be too debilitating for me.
Believe me, you don’t want to Be My Brain.
But, once you graduate, there might be a place for you over at Narrative…
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