I’ve never been one to advertise my (many) failures, but I admit to enjoying Bill Knott’s posting, on an earlier incarnation of his blog, of selected rejection slips he’d gathered over the years. Some of them were outright hilarious. But I’m posting the following not to highlight the blindness of an editor, but to show what a genuinely kind rejection should look like. This one came in response to two stories I excerpted from my unpublished collection entitled Unnecessary Risks and submitted to John Thornton at Seven Stories Press, in the hope that he might want to read the entire manuscript. This is only the second time I’ve tried to place the book; even though all the stories in it but one (a novella) have been published in magazines, I don’t have the kind of confidence in my fiction that I have in my poetry. (It’s possible, of course, that I’m deluded about both.) And I decided to try Seven Stories chiefly because they publish one of my favorite writers, Linh Dinh. I’m no Linh Dinh, but my fiction has a similar morbidity and strangeness (damn you, Edgar Poe!), and besides, I admire many other writers on the Seven Stories list. As I more than half expected, the stories were rejected; I knew it as soon as I picked up the return envelope. (Rejected manuscripts give off a sickly green kryptonite-ish glow.) But inside I found more than a rejection: a short but thoughtful, handwritten response from John Thornton himself. I’m reproducing it here in the hope that other editors might strive to be this considerate. Writers’ egos are like hemophiliac linebackers—oversized but easily bruised—and it would make this game a lot less painful if more editors treated their rejected authors like human beings. Thanks, John….
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