If rejection slips were honest

I’m getting tired of polite rejections that tell me nothing. I’m almost ready for truthful rejection slips.

Dear author, this is the 54th poem I’ve read tonight. I’m tired. Reject.

If I hadn’t just been snubbed by my crush at the bar after workshop last night, I would have recommended that the journal accept your story about young love.

Your book is slow in the middle.

You need better characters.

Learn how to use line breaks.

We only publish surrealist poetry, so we’ll be passing on your short story.

I hate myself.

I hate you for no reason, probably because I hate myself.

Your ending is weak.

I have a cold.

I’m quitting my MFA program tomorrow.

What rejection slips do you want to see?

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13 responses to “If rejection slips were honest

  1. Based on a backdoor query and name-drop, a well known and very busy, (my dream), agent line-edited the first three paragraphs of the first three chapters he requested. This very generous gesture enlightened me to two things: the writing sucked and the writing sucked. That this stranger would take the time to read and edit material from a writer he did not know was amazing. He gained nothing, I gained everything.

    He was wonderful. I thought guys like that didn’t exist.

    Averil, tell J I said hello. He won’t remember me but I will remember him as long as I am able to touch fingertips to keyboard.

  2. How about,

    “I love this story so much that I put my job on the line to pitch it to my boss, but his chronic cranial rectosis flared up, so he told me to leave the reading comprehension to the big boys and go get him some coffee.

    “So I’m afraid [agency redacted] will be passing on your manuscript.. However, in a few weeks, I’ll be settled into my new job as a full agent at [much better agency redacted]. If some other lucky agent doesn’t nab you first, please send it to me again, and, we’ll get down to business.”

  3. I couldn’t get past the first few sentences, but I feel bad about that so I’m asking you to “send more work.”

    You are not Cormac McCarthy.

    You are not Alice Munro.

    I’ll publish yours if you’ll publish mine.

    The editor is in charge of my MFA program and he’s making us read 50 stories a week from this slush pile. I am pretending to be excited about that so I’ll get an A.

  4. “Sorry, but we already filled up this issue months ago with writers and friends we solicited, which means you and everyone else in the slush never had a chance to begin with. In our defense, we do this because 99% of the 50,000 submissions we get every week are horrible, and who has the time and energy to sort through them? Not us. But at least you can’t take take the rejection personally. Also, we will use great restraint in not concluding this rejection with a plea that you buy said issue full of our solicited friends. Unless you really want to, and then it’s only $12. Oops, couldn’t resist.”

  5. * Your story has meaning, which is outdated. Get hip to the post- post-modern world of self-promoting hedonism masquerading as New Yorker-style rebellion and heady libertarianism.
    * We only publish this journal so we can publish our own work, and the work of people we personally know because we can add it to our CVs and we don’t have to take the time to send it to other journals that will probably reject us. Maybe you should start your own journal or a blog, if you want to self publish.
    * We only take essays that mimic David Sedaris’s.

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