Imagination is vital for a writer’s life. At no time is this more the case than when you find that rejection letter in the mail box. What can keep you writing and submitting even after letter after form letter? (You know, the letters that seem to say: “We don’t want what you write, and by the way, we hate you.”) You must believe there is more to it than that. If you need help to keep going, perhaps you can convince yourself the real reason they turned down your story is because… There was “something more” more going on in those editorial offices.
1) If you receive a letter that says, “Does not meet our current editorial needs” perhaps this is the real story:
“I know this, ‘Diamond to the Head’ story is brilliant, but I am not putting it in North South Literary Journal! Everything else in the issue will pale beside it! You know our current editorial need is mediocrity!”
2) “It isn’t appropriate for our age group” really means;
“If we allow children to taste the rich flavor of literature in this story, ‘Buggy the Squirrel, and His Favorite Nut’ they won’t be satisfied with Kid’s Funnanza Magazine anymore, they’ll want to go straight to Shakespeare!”
3) “Nearly all our stories of this type are staff written” translates as:
“This article ‘Everything A Bride Needs To Know’ is so comprehensive, with its how-to-guides for doing your own flowers, food, dresses, and cake, nothing more can be added to the subject… Publishing this would mean the end of Brides Forever.”
4) Don’t feel too bad to receive “Does not meet our standards”, because, well…
“Why should we make room for ‘Shades of Existential Meaning in the Works of Ingmar Bergman’ in Movie Times? We would have to cut either ‘Adam Sandler: Is the Comic Genius a Hunk, Too?’ or ‘Why I Really Like Gigli’. Who is this Bergman chick anyway? Is she a hottie?”
5) If I were you I wouldn’t even be bothered by “Not sufficiently edited; too many grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors”, because there is probably more to the story:
“Dude! Like how does this person know the code? She used ‘effect’ for ‘affect’, spelled ‘difficulty’ with an ‘a’, and check out all the dangling participles! This person must know that High and Seek Magazine is a front to send messages to the contacts in our smuggling operation! I’m telling you this person is probably a minion of John Ashcroft! Try to blow her off with a rejection letter!”
So before you lash out again at your postal carrier, remember: the rejection letters aren’t about you. Find a way to tell yourself that and keep writing.
(Dean Anderson is still baffled by the rejection letters he receives from The New Yorker, Punch, and Ferret Monthly. He has received letters of another kind from Breakaway, Brio and Beyond, and Games Magazine. He can be reached at deanattrustGod@yahoo.com)