I got a rejection yesterday that was interesting. It was a form email but written in a quirky, sort of hipster way. I’m sure they wrote it that way to try and soften the blow of it both being a rejection and not being personalized; kind of had the opposite effect on me though. It pissed me off a little.
It also got me to thinking about all the varied rejections I’ve gotten over the years. The oddest had to be back in the days before the internet and email when you had to snail mail a submission and provide a self addressed stamped envelope to receive a reply. You had to pay for your own possible execution. Once when I opened my SASE I found a ½ inch wide strip of notebook paper with the word “No” written on it. That’s it. I started to wonder how I would write my form rejection if I ran a zine. Hmmm . . .
Dear Writer Whose Work I Have Chosen Not to Use,
I hope this missive finds you well and in good health, with a firm hand and regular bowels. Today I write to you in regards to your submission of February 1, 2013, a short story of such depth and magnitude it pained my eyes to behold it. I read your tale with great interest, with moderately-sized vats of enthusiasm and only a mild dose of boredom.
What a rollicking tale you told! I’m sure you spent days just conceiving the title which can only make the body of the text rendered with your blood, sweat and copious amounts of Turkish hashish. I commend you with the vigor of a wealthy man’s paramour who feels she’s about to be replaced by a younger, bustier version of herself and takes matters into her own hands by paying a Honduran immigrant $500 to kill her rival and seal the body in a 55 gallon drum of hydrochloric acid.
Alas, despite this being one of the ten greatest stories written in the past three weeks, I must decline to publish it. “Why?” I hear you asking. I implore you not to ask. There are no simple answers, no right or wrong, no black or white, no “I love your story” or “Wow what a piece of crap”. Move on, dear writer. Move on with your life. Treasure your family, flatter your children, spoil the dog with expensive rawhide bones, buy a ping pong table and begin weekly neighborhood tournaments with trophies and scrolls and snack trays of soft cheeses, antipasto and dipping sauces. Live dear writer! Live your life free of the knowledge of why I thought your story was dung hanging from the ass of a wild donkey! Live!
Personally, I would be proud to receive this rejection letter. I would undoubtedly frame it, hang it in a place of prominence in my home. Maybe string some bunting around the edges. There would be a dedication ceremony of course. Dave Barry would speak followed by a small party with music provided by local garage band Blown Head Gasket. A good time would be had by all. Someday . . .