I often find myself cringing at form rejections, wishing that editors would give just a snippet of insight into why they rejected my story. Today, I found myself wishing for a form rejection.
Nearly a year ago, I wrote a story titled “George and the Fatal Mistake” merging George Lucas’ sale of the Star Wars franchise to Disney with a cross-road/deal with the devil trope. I sent to a few speculative publications, but quickly realized it was too close to fan fiction for their taste. I sent to a few celebrity and pop-culture themed calls for submissions, but also got rejections. After more rejections from humor zines, I was thinking it just didn’t belong in a lit mag, but saw an interesting anthology and thought, “I’ll try one more time.”
That was first of my big mistakes.
The second was that I didn’t reread the story to make sure it was the most up to date, error free draft. I wasn’t confident it was even a fit for theme. It was late. I didn’t think it was worth the effort.
The result: The rudest and most detailed rejection letter I’ve ever received that not only criticized my editing and writing skills, but put me down as a teacher as well. This editor even went as far as telling me that she couldn’t imagine anyone anthology editor would publish my writing.
For the first time since I started submitting stories, I actually wish the editor had just sent me a form rejection, and while I normally don’t let an angry editor deter me from submitting a story elsewhere, but I knew even before I sent this one out that it was the type of thing that belonged on my blog, not someone’s zine or anthology.
Later today, after I finish fixing all the grammatical errors than angered this editor (and a few she didn’t comment on), I will post it on my blog, and readers who don’t know anything about Star Wars can ignore it, and those who will appreciate it can read it.
Next time I get a form rejection, I will think of this angry editor, and be happy with “thank you for submitting, but this just isn’t what we are looking for.”