Today I got my first rejection letter for a short story, but it’s good news. Here’s why…
It’s better to receive a crappy one-line personal note than a form letter. It means you stood out in the slush pile. Someone took time out of his or her busy day to send you a personal reply. Here’s mine:
“The focus was a bit lost, but you have the potential for a strong voice, which we like.
Unfortunately this particular piece was not a right fit for One Teen Story, but we were very impressed by your writing. We hope that you will feel encouraged by this short note and send us something else.
We look forward to reading more.
The Editors of One Teen Story”
Why am I so excited about this? Well first of all, I submitted this story on impulse, forgetting that the protagonist tells a girl to “suck on his cock.” Yes. That’s right. To a YA magazine. After I realized what I had done, I had no expectations whatsoever for this piece. In fact, I had forgotten that I had submitted it.
It’s not clear that they rejected the piece for this reason. Interesting.
Secondly, they took the time to tell me “The focus was a bit lost” which probably means I need to do a lot more editing on the piece. I will admit something I’m very ashamed of—I didn’t submit this to my writing group. No one else read it. That was stupid of me, and I’m not going to make that mistake again.
Thirdly, they think I have the “potential for a strong voice” which means I probably need to work on that too. It was close, though. It caught their attention. I should go through this piece and check for inconsistencies. Workshop it a bit. Cut the fat.
And the best part: “We look forward to reading more.”
See how much you can learn from just a few lines in a rejection letter?
Happy happy joy joy.
5 thoughts on “Rejection Letters”
Having gotten my fair share of rejections, from form letters to the more personal, I agree with your sentiments. Best of luck as you negotiate this wooly space.
Thanks so much! I’ve heard so much about rejection I’m almost looking forward to it. It’s like a writer’s badge of honor.
Is it appropriate to say “good job!” ?
I had a similar comment on my first rejection letter. “Find your voice first”. It’s definitely universal!
Keep writing, trimming the fat, and you will go far.
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