Thursday, November 10, 2011
Rejections. Oh yes, indeed. You're supposed to paper a wall with them, and no doubt I could have papered a whole house, except that I prefer to use them to roast weenies.
Here's a favorite, scrawled acress my original query letter and sent back to me in my stamped self-addressed envelope: "THANKS, BUT NO THANKS."
(I kind of get a kick out of the fact that I have to pay to get these things. They're either too cheap or don't want to bother putting a stamp on something.)
Rubber-stamped in upper right-hand corner of original letter: "LIST IS FULL."
"Dear Ms. Gunning. We read your science fiction story. Frankly, the only idea we've seen more often than this one is the guy going back in time and stepping on a butterfly."
"Hi Margaret, we liked your story, but why does it have to be so depressing? Lighten up!"
"After much consideration, we do not feel that you are ready for the novel form."
"LIST IS FULL."
"Though we are all in agreement that your novel is destined for the best-seller list, we are certain it will not be with us."
"This may be the wrong decision, in fact we may regret it for the rest of our lives, but - no."
"Some fine writing here, and you should definitely keep at it, but this is just not up to our standards."
"Why does the violin talk?"
By extension, let's take a look at some of those Famous Rejections we're always hearing about. My personal favorites are the ones that are completely fabricated (by me).
"Dear Mr. Clemens. This boy character of yours is completely repugnant. His so-called "adventures" will never draw a readership, particularly since you insist on pairing him with that Negro person."
"Dear Mr. Dickens. To begin with, we don't like your pen-name - no one will take it seriously - and we are unclear about one thing. Which 'two cities' do you mean?"
"Miss Bronte, why must you insist on scribbling away like this when you could be making yourself useful doing needlework instead?"
"Mr Poe, pick yourself up out of the gutter and turn that morbid mind of yours to more wholesome subjects. That black bird of yours is most unattractive."
"My dear Miss Alcott, to set your story during the Civil War is nothing but a cheap device to gain reader sympathy. And as for those four girls - they are unmemorable and dreadfully dull."
"Mr. Yeats, not to put to fine a point on it, your poems are an undecipherable mess. Study rhyme and meter before approaching us again."
"Dear Mr. King: Please be advised that menstruation is not an acceptable topic, even in a horror novel. We advise that you take up some other field of endeavour."
"Mr. Joyce. Condolences on your illness. We hope you find a suitable sanitorium in the near future."
(And, here it is - my all-time favorite):
"Whales, Mr. Melville?"
(Codicil. Interesting little note, below. I wonder if they rejected him. Bazinga!)
I am 14 years of age, and have been writing as far back as I can remember, and submitting manuscripts for the last couple of years. I subscribe to your magizine (sic), and my favorite feature is the Obituary department, although "O. Henry's Comet", for which this story is intended, runs a close second.
Thanks very much for reading my story. I hope you see your way clear to put it in "O. Henry's Comet."
Rt #1, Bownal