About our guest blogger:
Katherine Heiny’s stories have been published in The New Yorker, The Antioch Review, The Greensboro Review, Seventeen, and have been presented on Selected Shorts on NPR, and performed off-Broadway. She lives in Washington D.C. with her husband and two children.
Let me be very clear about something from the start: I don’t mind rejection letters. What I mind are poorly written rejection letters.
Recently I got a rejection letter that read, “Dear William Fitzgerald, while we chose not to accept your story, we thought it was bright and lively and well-written and we’d be interested in seeing more of your work.”
Nothing wrong there … except that my name isn’t William Fitzgerald. (And William, if you’re out there and got a rejection letter that began “Dear Katherine Heiny,“ please call me and I’ll take you out for a beer.)
In addition to the letter meant for Mr. Fitzgerald, I received a rejection that read, “We really like this story, except for the plot and characters and dialogue.” Think about that for a minute.
Another letter contained the sentence “You’re a good enough writer not to need ‘compliments.’” Funny, but quotes usually indicate that the opposite of the word in quotes is intended. (And who says I don’t need compliments?)
Still another said, “Your [sic] very talented.” Which is a compliment but would be more meaningful coming from someone who knew the difference between “you’re” and “your.”
Sometimes I think I should have become a stripper, where humiliation and degradation are at least known occupational hazards. (And I think that most strip clubs employ bouncers to deal with obnoxious customers – maybe that’s what I need.)
But then I got a beautiful handwritten rejection letter (who handwrites anything these days? it was like something from a time machine), praising my work and asking to see more. It was almost as good as an acceptance letter, and yes, I’ve gotten some of those recently, too.
I meant it when I said I don’t mind rejection letters – I once had a story rejected thirty-one times before it sold. So listen up, all you editors who can’t spell or get my name right or find anything to like about my work: I’m going to keep sending you stories, so get used to it. (Or else I’ll send a few freelance writers around to deal with you.)