Sunday, March 20, 2011

Can't Get No Rejection

By now I am beginning to suspect that my sought-after rejection from Journal of Universal Rejection will not be so easy to come by:

We were very pleased to read your updated story. So much so that we shared it with our wife, who was also very approving. The landscape descriptions are fantastic.

That said, however, there is still too much dialog. Our readership doesn't read dialog. Perhaps a story that is solely about the hills around Derbyshire? Or a travelogue (sans dialog) of popular vacation spots for hit men? Ideally it would be a story with 6 characters and no dialog.

Caleb Emmons, PhD
Journal of Universal Rejection

My reply, which follows, attached a story called: "Landscape, No Dialog, Six Characters":

Dear Dr. Emmons:

I lament my inability to express my pleasure at receiving your non-rejection. You are right: there is too much dialog in the story. I see how your audience could not possibly read such a thing.

I wish I could express to you my gratitude for your willingness to work with me on this issue.

Please find attached my complete rewrite with no dialog whatsoever. I hope it will be more to your and (perhaps more importantly) your wife's liking.

P.S. It occurs to me that despite your fearless reputation in academia, you might be withholding a rejection out of misplaced concern for my emotional well-being. Be assured that I have been rejected before many, many times, though rarely with quite this much work.

P.P.S. Grateful regards to your wife. Does she publish a journal, by any chance?

What will Dr. Emmons do next? Dont miss the next exciting installment in the Rejection Saga!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rejection Fail

I figured I'd heard the last from the Journal of Universal Rejection when Dr. Caleb Emmons sent me a form letter saying he'd get to my story one of these days. I lamented the lack of a bonafide rejection but in my usual classy way was able to shrug it off and move on with my life.

Then he wrote me again. I've been invited to resubmit my dialog-only story, which he has even, clearly, read:

Thank you for your submission to the Journal of Universal Rejection.

Our readership prefers stories with lots of landscape description.
Clearly as your story stands we cannot accept it for publication.
Should you add something about (e.g.) the hills around Derbyshire into
your story, we would give the story another look.  We also accept
bribes, and are almost as trustworthy as the characters in your story;
small bills only please.

Best regards,

My letter back to him:

Dear Dr. Emmons:

It is beyond me to put into words how delighted I was to receive your encouraging note vis-à-vis my story "Done" rather than the swift bona-fide rejection promised me in your Instructions for Authors.

As a writer little could please me more than an invitation to rewrite a story with the possibility dangled before me of being corrected again prior to my pending rejection. Despair and glee war within; never has lack of rejection left me feeling so conflicted.

But I am helpless in the face of editorial whim. Thus please find attached a new version of "Done" which includes a good number of what I hope you will find tasteful and appropriate references to landscape.

I look forward to your reply. Thank you for your kind attention.

P.S. I will, of course, blog about this. You'll be famous. Possibly.

P.P.S. Send PayPal link.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I Grieve with You

I bought a lovely card with a photo of flower on the front so I could write something in the way of condolences.

Not those the "Sympathy" cards you see in the store with their canned, insipid sentiments that attempt to save you the trouble of figuring out what to say. Loss of this magnitude is intense, personal, wrenching. Those cards never say the right thing.

But there is no right thing. As I struggle for an hour to find the right words, the ones that say "I'm sorry" and "he was a fine man" but don't tell her how to feel and don't pretend that it's all right, I find myself wishing for the pre-worded card to save me this agony.

Finally I finish. More like I run out of ways to say "condolences". Com -- "with" and "dolere "to grieve."  "I grieve with you."

At the post office I hold an envelope containing carefully handwritten and heartfelt words, oh so inadequate. The envelope feels too light and insubstantial to carry this message.

There is no way to carry this message. I could send a ton of flowers, and I could cry for a week, and it would still be just as inadequate.

As I drop the envelope in the box, I am struck by a sense of futility, frustration, and sadness. The life of a man cannot be summed up, not by a book, not by a movie, and certainly not by a sympathy card.

There is no summation.  There is only goodbye.