One writer's half-century of submitting work for publication
What an eye-opener. I was shocked to read these rejections, how they find the most subtle issue to validate their position. It's a smidge too polemical, or a tiny bit too sracastic, or whatever reason these editors opt to frame. It's daunting to think that a writer should know all the mysterious i's to dot and t's to cross to make their stories good enough to serve a particular fussy reader. Does a writer need to change the story to fit the specific nuanced needs of a specific publication? "We love your piece, but felt the tone was a bit too sarcastic or polemical or derisive, or satirical, etc..." I feel very enlightened by these comments.
Staring into the abyss 🥺
I'm glad I have a day job, one that actually pays the bills, including very necessary health insurance. The rare $10 or $25 I get from publishing a poem is sweet, but thank God I don't have to rely on my writing to live -- not in a material sense at least. I enjoyed James Gallant's rejection chronicle, sort of. If it teaches me anything as a fellow writer, it is that there are many of us out here, writing well, and not quite making it. Still, I will find a little more Gallant to read. It's there to be found! -- As is mine ;-)
Depressingly familiar and inspiring at the same time. My 'favorite' rejection comment: 'I really enjoyed your story but I don't think it's for our readers', to which I responded 'Go on, be a devil and find out'. No response was the firm reply. Second 'favorite', responding to a 100-word micro flash submission, 'We felt it took too long to get into the story'. All in all, rejection feedback is the worst kind and I wish they wouldn't do it at all.
In the context of 'misery loves company' I found reading this excerpt to be both infuriating and comforting. That a writer of Gallant's level of ability and success received responses like these raises the question, "Just who do they think they are??" Wow...
Having worked on the editorial board of a regional lit journal in college I recognize how subjective (and sometimes arrogant and immature) editors may be. However, writers just need to appreciate that subjective nature, glean what they can from rejections and persevere. Accirding to the tried and true saying," Those who can...do. Those who can't...teach." The same may also be applied to creatives v. editors/critics.
I'm from a family of critics. Although they re creatives, the passion for spelling "success" with dollar signs has seemed to drive life decisions. That may be the defining point between creatives and their critics as well
Fantastic. A tour through publishing hell and back. My hats off to Gallant, who is obviously a very talented writer and a persistent fellow.
Why are these posts always soooo gooooood? Highlights here include: "I like your work because it reminds me of me" (paraphrasing but that's the gist); every single forkin' back-stabbing betrayal, each one of which proves the maxim that the publishing industry will always, always find another way to humiliate you if you let them (but don't you let them); and amid all of the downtroddenness, a fall from a ladder. Perfect.
Oh, my! I simultaneously laughed and cried while reading this article! Though I am a late-in-life published poet, I've also been rejected by one or two journals cited--and received the same message: Do try us again. If this isn't the ultimate Catch-22...
Thanks for a great read!
I just read this twice. I might need to read it through again. Thank you for creating it, James Gallant, and for publishing it here. So true
Wow! This was both amazing, entertaining, and a little heartbreaking to read. Thanks so much for compiling!
How I love this piece. I will admit, however, that I could only get through half of it. It is bad to read my own rejections, let alone a pile of someone else's. Warm regards.
Ha, this is very entertaining! And quite awful. It's important to remember that just because one editor says no, not every editor is going to say no, and yes it is a challenge to pair your work up with the right editor. Sort of like finding someone to date.
Also, perhaps form rejections are better than getting comments back! If you do get comments, you have to decide what matters to you and what doesn't (if you are going to implement any recommended changes). Comments are subjective and it's okay if you don't agree with them. Soldier on.
And I thought all Epistolary novels would be like Clarissa!! Wonderfull!! BTW Clarissa is pretty good, too.
When I worked on the aforementioned college lit journal (1999) we received a handwritten submission. Some editorial staff were prepared to toss it simply because it was handwritten. Some were vehement while others sat complacently quiet. This infuriated me. The guidelines did not require submissions be typed. Also the peace had an essential and authentic Afro-American voice... It was the antithesis of the banal pap with which we were deluged. The "mission" of the publication was to uplift new literary voices. I advocated hard and called out their prejudice. The piece was published. I don't think editorial boards have changed all that much. Loud, arrogant, and power-seeked scum often rises to "the top"
This is so inspiring and heartbreaking. It should be handed out at every MFA program and writers’ conferences.