After some 50 years of submitting material to publications, I'm not happy to admit that rejection slips still bother me.
Some don't surprise me: publication in magazine ABC or at ezine XYZ might have been a long shot.
Others throw me into minor states of shock because the synchronicity between the publication and the work I submitted seemed perfect.
Some rejection slips even make me laugh, in a dark humor kind of way. These include those in which the editor says, "we don't publish in this genre/theme/style/subject" even though I know full well that they do publish that. I'm tempted to write back and ask, "are you reading your own magazine?" But I don't.
Recently, I submitted a self-contained chapter of a novel to a literary magazine. Here's a copy of the e-mail rejection slip (with the names changed to protect the guilty):
Thank you, Malcolm, for submitting to The Bonfire Novelist. Unfortunately, we have elected to pass on your novel in progress, much preferring to consider something this is complete and polished, well beyond an initival draft.
Good luck with this project as you move forward with it.
"K Martin" spells about as badly as I do, so we should be kindred spirits.
The fact that "K. Martin" doesn't know that I've polished this passage for some 15 years and have had numerous authors sing its praises isn't relevant. Editors don't care about the agony or the ecstasy we went through to create a short story or a poem, and I don't blame them. They can only go by what they see on the page.
"K Martin" knows his magazine and his audience much better than I do. My excerpt might be a really bad fit. That's acceptable. Suggesting that I slapped together an unpolished first draft is an unnecessary insult.
A form rejection slip or a simple "not for us" would have sufficed.
Okay, having used this blog as a place to vent, I'm ready to take a deep breath and move on, vowing out of ego, never to read the publication again.
I invite you to visit my Malcolm's Round Table weblog today and learn more about Shelagh Watkins' exciting new anthology Forever Friends.