I said no, once more with feeling

In honor of my tremulous mental health and the fact that I threw a bunch of submissions into the wind last week, I’d like to host a contest. Cougar, my trusty judge, will like that too.

Let’s talk about the craggy underbelly of our brave submissions, that’s right, I’m talking about wife-swapping rejections. I don’t submit to [journal redacted] anymore after they emailed me a rejection that said, “Dear writer, Thank you for submitting your work to [journal redacted]. Unfortunately your work does not meet our needs at this time.” In the age of Submittable, they could not be bothered to use my name or the name of my work.

Then there was the time I was rejected for using pathetic fallacies in a poem. After I looked up the phrase, I realized that that was what poems fucking do. I delete them like crazy when I copyedit prose, but poems! Insult to injury, I told that story in a slightly public forum and the woman who rejected me was on the list. I tried to initiate a conversation, but it went nowhere.

(Seriously, though, if you can’t make a fucking violin embody a bit of a human personality or actions, then I fucking give up the whole poetry rodeo.)

Now that you can see that I’m risking being humiliated once again about my pathetic violin poem, please back me up. What are your worst/funniest/dumbest rejections?

Contest will be judged by Cougar herself, and prizes will be awarded by yours truly. Enter early, enter often, bribes entertained.

PS Nonliterary rejections will be considered.

PPS Do bowls get rejected (ahem)? Or books that editors might wish to acquire?


30 responses to “I said no, once more with feeling

  1. Am I allowed to enter AND judge? Ah, probably not. But just in case, how about the rejection I got which said my manuscript needed more development, and that I should read the work of Dr Cougar for inspiration? Really!

  2. I wrote an essay about my first rejection here: https://wessonblog.wordpress.com/2010/07/23/what-form-rejections-mean-to-me-an-essay/

    But I also remember a fellow attendee of a summer writing workshop telling me she’d stopped reading my story (“Alas,” she said, with a patronizing smile), because I’d underlined the name of a newspaper instead of using italics in the second paragraph (As her Book of the One True Way of MS formatting dictated). Or perhaps vice versa . . . I don’t remember because technology rendered it a moot point soon after.

    • What?? Even I, Indy Clause the Pain in the Ass About All Things Copyeditorial, would not stop reading a story because you underlined rather than italicized. Especially because they signify the same thing! Even if one is a little outdated.

      I, Indy Clause, General Pain in the Ass About All Things, would instead have mocked you for your old-fashioned ways and quickly moved on. And you being you would have probably slayed me with a pun. Then we all would have walked away from the encounter happy.

  3. Dear Contributor,

    Thank you for your interest in our magazine.

    I am very sorry to disappoint you but unfortunately due to the volume of short stories currently flooding into our offices, I am, for the foreseeable future, unable to read and therefore accept unsolicited stories from authors who have not already had an acceptance from [redacted]

    If you have contributed to [redacted] in the past I thank you for your submissions, if not, I’m sorry I can’t offer you, at this time, the opportunity to have your work published with us.

  4. Bowls do get rejected, but there’s never a note. You just take your carefully-lit photos with the fancy camera borrowed from your neighbor, you upload your images in whatever persnickety format is required, you pay your ridiculous entry fee (yes!), you remember not to sell that bowl to anyone else, you remember not to enter it in any other shows, and you wait to hear either yes or nothing. If it’s nothing, you harrumph and enter it the next show. If it’s yes, you pay an arm and a leg in shipping and insurance to send it to the show and hope to win a prize or sell the thing.

    Or! You renounce the whole ridiculous business and instead try to make nice things that people will like well enough to give you money for.

    I’m in the latter camp. Fuck ’em. I prefer toiling in relative obscurity anyway.

  5. Pingback: Sweet Baby Jesus: Deciphering the AWP Catalogue to Find Panels that Don’t Make Me Want to Gouge My Eyes Out | Fangs and Clause

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  7. Pingback: Rejecting rejection: Laughing through our tears | Fangs and Clause

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