Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Critical Mom's Rejection Letter

 . . .  For a memoir from a rather well known and respected literary journal, (circulation 2,500) once deemed "the most valuable journal in the U.S. today" : 

It was a fascinating read; it just was not for us.
So who is it for?  If it's so fascinating, why aren't you publishing it?  These are not the questions that rejection letters answer, of course.  Usually I get the form letter instead: "not right for us at this time."  Actually, I think I'd prefer that, since what I did get sounds like at least one of the following:
(1) It's good, but we don't do scandal, and shame on you.
(2) You made spelling mistakes, but we'd like for you to feel good. 
(3) This is weird and disgusting and makes us squirm when we read it.

What they wrote praises with faint damns. But if interpretation (3) is correct, I think I'm on the right track.  I just printed the thing out and re-read it and feel not inclined to change One Damn Thing.  So I'll just Google around until I find a magazine with a circulation of more than eight (yes, 8) readers.  Since my last memoir appeared in such a publication, I think I have a right to move up to one with a circulation of at least twenty-five, if not 2,500. 

P.S.  Last night when I was asking my very sleepy husband what the SAM HILL "a fascinating read . . . not for us" could mean, and he was saying "I don't knowwwww"  we both feel asleep.  And he dreamed a dream, a very odd dream, he reported in the morning, that we were living in The White House, and although Obama was still president, he was living in some little guest house on the grounds, and sitting around in his pajamas answering a call from one of us about not publishing Adrienne Rich because she might offend guess who?  MOI.  I love his sympathetic dreams.  When I was pregnant with our first child, he dreamed his mother would have the baby for me, so that I would not experience labor pains.

Well, in the wake of all this, I changed three words and removed one, and I'm going to ship the thing off again.   Now is the time to chant mantras like, "The Iowa writers workshop rejected Gary Shteyngart!  And they didn't think Sandra Cisneros had any talent!" 

P.S.  Then I looked the thing over.  Trimmed a word here, a paragraph there.  Oh, that paragraph really doesn't belong there.  It belongs here.  Or out.  Or no, half of it stays in and the rest out.  

This is why it is much harder to write something that is 4,000 words instead of 11,000.

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