My writer friends and I have been talking a lot lately about the nature of submissions, and more specifically about personal rejections and how much encouragement we take from them. Where academics expect feedback on the papers they send out for publication and often get the chance to revise their work based on their peers’ recommendations, the creative writer sending out unsolicited work rarely gets either.
I recently went through my “personal rejections” folder and found encouraging messages, and even some helpful revision advice, that I’ve received over the last decade, from which I assembled the following collage. This one goes out to all of the editors out there doing the good/ hard/ important work, and especially to those who (every once in a while) make time to add an encouraging note to an otherwise canned response.
you came so close
I really enjoyed what I read
This is excellent work.
You have command of your audience.
Your story is a powerful one
we have decided against using
your recent submission.
Although we’re passing on this group of work
We regret that we are unable to publish it.
I’d like you to keep me posted as your writing career develops.
we found your work engaging,
we appreciated the theme
we found the work to be strong
we were interested
We enjoyed your story
We’re going to have to pass
didn’t fit the narrative voice that has developed for this anthology
does not meet our current needs
we couldn’t find a place for it in this issue
the story may be longer than it need be
we wanted to let you know that we read it with more than the casual amount of interest,
that your work in some way caught our eye.
We admired many aspects of your piece
We appreciate the hard work
We appreciate the efforts
several of us read it and remarked that we felt that it was deftly written
we’re intrigued by the writing,
we enjoyed reading your story
we’re going to pass on it
and would like to encourage you to send us more writing soon
would be glad to see more of it.
in the end we have decided against publishing
given the volume of submissions we receive,
even quality work often has to be declined.
I wanted you to know that out of
nearly 800 entries,
more than one thousand entries,
Your writing has surpassed hundreds
that yours was one of thirty-one manuscripts
was one of the eight finalists.
it made our final round for this volume.
I hope you will be encouraged
Our readers and judge thought very highly of your work,
and it was not an easy decision
Please submit to us again.
-Jonathan Escoffery, 2017 Ivan Gold Fellow