Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks
Saturday, September 27, 2003 Rejection Issues
I’ve been trying to turn myself into a professional writer for many years now. Like everyone else who can say that, I’ve amassed an impressive collection of rejection letters. I saved most of them, so that one day, when I accomplished my goals, I could sift through them and laugh at the folly of those who had once failed to recognize my genius and turned me down. And especially at the folly of those who expected me to pay them $2500 for editing services, after which they might think about maybe reconsidering.
I am glad I kept those letters, but not for that reason. I’m going to have to go through them for ideas.
As it turns out, one of the duties in my new job is to go through the stuff people submit to us, hoping we’ll use it on the show and pay them for the privilege. Every item goes in one of two piles. One pile gets shown to the boss. The other pile goes back. You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned a “yes” pile. That’s just how it goes. It’s my job to respond with bad news. Or pass it on to the boss and then get it back and have to relay his bad news. Or, best-case scenario, pass it on to the boss and then have him pass it along to other people give the good news.
So here I am, not that far from my own life as an aspiring writer, and I’m responsible for shooting down other aspiring writers. This can’t be good for my karma.
I was conscious of this when drafting the rejection form, and I think that may have been why I had so many versions I had to reject. The hardest part was coming up with a letter that applies to everyone. I could individualize them if I had that kind of time, but I don’t. Otherwise, some of the people who sent in stuff (but by no means all—there are two piles, remember) would be getting letters like this:
Thank you for your submission. We look forward to future submissions, when hopefully you will have learned to operate the spell check function.
Thank you for your submission, which we regret we are unable to use. Please bear in mind that the entire show is only two hours long. Perhaps you would be more comfortable writing for a less restrictive format, such as daytime drama.
We appreciated receiving your submissions, but we are sorry to say that since we work in the medium of radio, lengthy car chases and shootouts lose a good deal of their visual impact.
While our show’s host and cast appreciate a challenge, none of them are fluent in Urdu. Please consider resubmitting in a more familiar language.
While we appreciate your faxing your manuscript, we would prefer that you would mail it if you insist on writing in crayon.
Okay, the truth is that none of those comments apply to anything I've received yet. Often stuff is good; it's just wrong for us. Writing a letter that will say that and also apply to some potential, eventual submission that will make me want to say "Please never set paper to pen again" is the tough part.
From wannabe to gatekeeper in one step. Oddly, being on this end of the rejection process isn’t quite as much fun as I thought it would be.
Today’s best search phrase: “mayonnaise fetish trailer park.” The Mayonnaise Fetish Trailer park is, of course, one of a series of highly specialized mobile home courts in the Florida Panhandle. I think you’ll be very happy there.
posted by M. Giant 5:23 PM 0 comments