My First Rejection Letter and a No-Go Zone

So.  I was rejected by SmokeLong Quarterly.  A rejection from SmokeLong is like a handshake with a celebrity.  Congratulations to moi.  My only regret is that rejection letters now come in the form of electronic messages on Submittable, which means I have to print this bad boy myself.

In the days leading up to my first rejection letter of 2015, I attempted to live life to the fullest.  The highlights of my week were: a day trip to Mont Saint-Michel, organized by my stepdaughter, and a three hour wine tasting in a real Parisian person’s home, organized by me.  Then my stepdaughter got on a plane to Vietnam, and moments later, I was home alone in a clean, quiet apartment, wondering what to do with myself, when I got the Rejection Letter.

Sort of like getting Hit By A Car.  In slow motion.  And now I myself have become an element of literature: a (really awesome) protagonist.  Because you feel for me, right?  Oh, but please don’t.

I went to my Writer’s Workshop last night for the first time in nearly four months.  Per the usual, I came away with a wheelbarrow full of ideas, and now I’m thinking, I really need to get that shit on paper, you know?  However, I had a haircut appointment today, on the completely way other side of Paris.  And you have to admit, haircuts are important.

My salon is in a No-Go Zone, as reported (and later rescinded) by Fox News.  This is meaningless to me, except it gets me thinking about how I’d write rejection letters, if I had such power.  I’d write ‘em from a No-Go Zone.  They’d be like this:

Dear So-and-So-Mister-I-Got-An-English-Degree-in-1993:

First off, get a fucking MFA.  Not that it makes you any better of a writer, but I can’t publish you without those creds, otherwise I look like a douche to the rest of the literary community.  No but seriously, get an MFA.

Secondly, and please don’t take this the wrong way, but your story sucks.  What does your narrator want?  What is the real conflict?  What consequences does he pay as a result of his choices?  Have you stayed true to your point of view?  Your narrative stance?  Do you even know what narrative stance means?  And for crying out loud, have you heard of line editing?  I don’t believe you have an English degree, actually.  Are you sure it’s not a Communications degree?  From a junior college?

It’s time to pull your head out of your ass and get a real job.  You are not a writer and you will never be a writer.  You might tell some pretty cool stories while sitting around a campfire coffee table drinking Gentleman Jack Coors Light 7-Up with your buddies, but that shit don’t fly places like Smokelong and [PANK] and Antigonish Review.  Not even Mad Libs will take your scraps.

I say this to help you.  Seriously.  It’s Tough Love that no other publisher has the ovaries to dispense.  You’ll thank me for this someday.


And then I’d print that enlightening nugget onto embossed cotton paper and sign my name with a fountain pen and send it through La Poste.

Wouldn’t that type of rejection letter be so much more productive?  Just think of all the better things I could have accomplished during my time in Paris if I hadn’t spent the last thirteen months writing gibberish.  I mean, when I wasn’t flirting with the chef at cooking classes, or drinking wine along the Seine, or applauding the mixologists at The Station when they lit the bar on fire, or partaking in that Oktoberfest thing.

Oh hey.  It’s Taco Night.


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