Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Rejection Notes

Not having received a response regarding a short story submission I mailed out in April, I finally e-mailed the journal's editor earlier this month (as the guidelines directed me to do) to inquire. And boy, am I glad I did.

No, the acceptance hadn't been lost in the mail. But frankly, this comes close.

The journal's editor responded to my inquiry within the day. She told me she simply couldn't locate the story. And she offered to read the story and respond to it within a week--if I e-mailed another copy.

That impressed me. She was polite, she was gracious, and she wasn't going to make me mail the entire (rather long) piece out again. And she was going to read the story herself! Soon!

Wait--it gets better. Because she actually did read the story. And she actually did respond. Promptly.

Yes, she rejected the story (very politely, though). More important, after starting with some brief praise and encouragement, she gave me some concrete suggestions for improving the story. And in another full paragraph (can you believe it?), she raised a question that I'd never considered, and that, truly, opened possibilities for the story I really had never envisioned, and probably wouldn't have ever envisioned on my own.

And here's the best part. She didn't push the suggestions on me. As in, "I would suggest, if you decide to do another revision...."

I was already impressed with the journal she edits. That's why I submitted the story in the first place. Now I'm even more impressed.

Best of all, I'm motivated to return to that story and push its (and my) limits.


Lisa R. said...

I'd say you hit the jackpot of editor responses.

I love it when someone -- anyone frankly -- can break me through some perceived barrier I've been toting around on one of my darling pieces of writing, and bam! opens up a whole new path.

Sadly, however, your experience points up the very common reality: many manuscripts are lost, misplaced, buried, forgotten; often despite the best of editorial intentions.

And it's also a good reminder about how a polite follow-up can pay off.

Erika D. said...

Thanks, Lisa. You're absolutely right--this is not the first time one of my manuscripts has been lost, misplaced, etc. You're equally right, I think, in having confidence in the vast majority of editorial intentions, AND in your point about the quality of a follow-up.