Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I am rejected. Because I write "stories like this."

The editor thinks I'm weird.
I'll give him weird.
Here's a new rejection letter for two short stories.  I found it painful and useless.  While I understand the editor was being generous in writing me and that you, My Reader, probably think I'm crazy for being offended, please understand. I have never followed up on a letter like this and had a story accepted.

In other words, while this editor thinks he has his reasons for not selecting this specific submission, he simply doesn't like my writing and doesn't understand that. My experience tells me he is going to keep finding fault. Been there. And there. And there.  No thanks.

His utter lack of specificity left me confused. Kind sir: don't like my writing. Fine. But if you don't (and this relates to fiction), give me at least one sentence or scene you'd make different. 

Weird? I am posting the letter in full (but for redacted titles and names) in hopes of getting rid of some of the ick.

Dear Sarah,

We've decided to pass on ...... But I want to encourage you pretty strongly to submit again. Here's where what should be a fairly standard rejection letter becomes longer and oddly personal, but I think it's worth doing.

See, I myself wrote--and, to some extent, still write--stories like this. And for a number of years, I got rejection letters that said, in essence, "these stories are good, but they're too weird." I didn't want to get more normal. So I was determined to reverse the clauses in that sentence--you know, write until I got a letter that said "this story is weird, but too good to pass up." So it was a question of making the weirdness more accessible, without becoming less weird; to give someone a really compelling reason to keep reading despite the weirdness.

I can tell you now that there is an audience for that sort of thing. Not a very big one, but it's pretty dedicated--and I myself am in it. Of course, you can write however you wish--maybe the direction I've described is not at all interesting to you--but in any case, I'm interested in reading more from you, and I'd like to see where you go next.



  1. I don't interpret this letter as from someone who doesn't like your writing. It seems he identifies with your writing. And with receiving rejection letters like the one he's writing. He's almost writing to you a rejection letter he once received. Weird. Weird but accessible. I wonder what his compelling reasons are. Have you read him?

  2. When I say "like" here I mean it only in the fiction editor sense. He is not going to publish that story or any other by me. I have been through this song and dance with a few other editors. It's clear that his writing me such a long note means he isn't dismissing me offhand. As to his writing, I did Google him and I will discuss that with you by other modes. But it would feel too close to gossip and possibly "out" him to say more here. But thanks. And the thing is. I don't want to talk about him. I want to get my work published. (So I submitted elsewhere.)