Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Win/Win

Dear Esteemed Literary Journal:

Thank you for considering my recent submission. As I said in my submission cover letter, I appreciate the time and effort required to read it--and to do all the other tasks involved in managing a literary journal these days.

After reading the form rejection letter accompanying your rejection, I'm really grateful you chose not to publish my piece.

I submitted it to you because your journal has a really good reputation. But I submitted against my better judgment. I really, REALLY shouldn't have. I was dubious after subscribing for a year, when I didn't particularly enjoy reading any of the issues. They weren't cohesive, unique, or even interesting. Only one short story made me sit up and say "Hmm." No "wow" at all.

So I should have known better to start with: My work and your journal just aren't a good fit. But, as I said, your reputation...well, it's enticing. And you say you're open to new-to-you writers, new work, general submissions. So I gave it a shot.

Your rejection letter just confirmed my suspicion. Read one way, it's full of vapid business jargon that doesn't actually say anything. I expected better attention to content--the actual words you're using to represent your program--from a literary journal that's tied to a major university.

Plus--and here's my suspicious self at work--it's possible to read the jargon as an indirect and sly insult to the work the person submitted. Talking about the high quality of the work you turn down doesn't actually compliment any particular writer's work. (Again, a little more care with words would serve you well.) I expected more empathy from a journal staffed by a reputable MFA program. After all, the students who are evaluating submissions will be on the receiving end of rejections some day.

But I hope I'm wrong. Given that writers whose work is rejected are bound to be a little sensitive, I probably am.

In any case, I'm pleased to be able to save us both some time in the future--I won't bother sending my work your way again, and you won't have to go to the trouble of rejecting it. Hey, a real win/win!

Best wishes,
Marion