a slightly less than completely rotten rejection

Truth be told, I love rejection slips. This may be because early in my writing career, I received a hand-written critique of a story I had submitted... to The New Yorker magazine. This stunning turn of luck may have colored my view of these dis-missives, these formula brushoffs, because I still thrill at the sight of them in my mailbox. Until opened, they are the Wonka Bars of the writing world, and even after the smack is down, one can spend long minutes perusing the text for any hint of hope, and trace of grace from the Mighty Editor Gods, imagining how their (mostly) kind declines could make the shape of a yes.

This week, I got a rejection from an online magazine I admire. With rejections received via email, it is difficult to discern the rubber-stampishness of the animal, but I was clevergirl enough to dig up another I'd received from the same rag (nothing if not tenacious) and lo, etc. It was a REAL response to my story, a personal note from a personal person to my person.

The rejection said no, but it was the nicest sort of no, as in no, not this one, but yes, this is the kind of super high quality work we're looking for and yes, please do send us more work in the future, and hey! it is because of fine writers like yourself that we're such a good magazine. So I'm not complaining.

That New Yorker letter hung framed on the wall of my room, through college and graduate school. The story that prompted it was, let's face it, a mess. But the letter said words to the effect of "clearly, you can write". And clearly, I can. But the more I write, the better I get, and the less I focus on publication, which is screwy, since the better you are, the better chance you have of finding the golden ticket.

For this week, I'll take the bronze.