Writer, Rejected runs a blog called Literary Rejections on Display. It is probably obvious that I am sort of addicted to this site. I go through phases: I check it regularly, then I stop myself and ignore it for several months. Then I remember it again and sift through its wreckage. The site frustrates me quite a lot, actually. I don’t mean Writer, Rejected frustrates me as an anonymous online person (Writer, Rejected was nothing but kind during our email exchange), even though sometimes her/his posts at LROD are a bit offputting. Instead, I mean that many of the users who troll the site to leave their weird comments frustrate me. I don’t understand why writers get so indignant when it comes to rejection letters: they overanalyze any slight variations between form letters; they put a lot of meaning into ‘inked’ rejections; they throw fits when some editor out there commits some injustice against the literary world, be that an offense against some odd aesthetic floating around on the internet (‘good fiction’) or against some struggling writer. Sure, I know about rejection – I remember when I first started submitting places. And I also have problems when it comes to how long some journals take to respond. But Jesus Christ, people. Get over yourselves. It’s part of the ‘game.’
My own opinions aside, Writer, Rejected has built a ‘massive’ following online because of her/his blog. Lots of people go there and read about the latest advances in rejection and in responding to rejection. There are posts of specific rejection letters, posts about journals that have fucked up in some way, posts about authors who have fucked up in some way, and other things of interest. If anything, there is always some sort of spectacle to look at over there. I like this about the site.
Writer, Rejected was patient enough to deal with my lame questions. And recently, Writer, Rejected asked his/her readers to grade the LROD blog. So I figured I’d administer my own little quiz, I guess. Each question is worth five points. There is also a bonus question.
What follows are Writer, Rejected’s responses to my email quiz questions (beware of the jump).
1. ‘Professionalism.’ We don’t really know what that word means at HTMLGIANT, but I have seen it in comments on your blog, usually in phrases like, ‘this blog lacks professionalism’ and ‘you are ruining your writing career,’ etc. Could you define ‘professionalism’ for us and maybe talk about it, I don’t know, something related to your blog, and also maybe talk about the words ‘writing’ and ‘career’ as a phrase? Why is this a concern of some of your ‘readers’?
Professionalism is never having to say you’re sorry…unless you are sorry, in which case, professionalism gives you the balls to say so. From my perspective, it’s a lot like love: best accomplished by being who you are. For me, making a point about the absurdity we’ve reached in literary fiction is more important than saving my own ass. If someone doesn’t want to publish me because of my blog, or because I published his or her rejection letter, I have to say that I’m pretty sure it won’t be the worst reason for rejection I’ve ever gotten, or ever will get.
Because I like to punish myself, I put aside this book review I’m working on to check out once again the Literary Rejections on Display blog and found this post about New Delta Review. Apparently, NDR uses this form letter:
For those with bad eyes, the rejection says:
Thank you for submitting. Unfortunately, the work you sent us is quite terrible. Please forgive the form rejection, but it would take too much of my time to tell you exactly how terrible it was. So again, sorry for the form letter.
Please let this be real. Please. I want this to be real so badly.
Already, someone in the comments section has advised NDR to hire a security guard, because someone might spray-paint their office and take a baseball bat to their car(s).
I have emailed the staff at NDR for confirmation of the form rejection.
Here are the emails I exchanged with the editor:
I just read somewhere online that you have a rejection form letter that says something like this:
“Thank you for submitting. Unfortunately, the work you sent us is quite terrible. Please forgive the form rejection, but it would take too much of my time to tell you exactly how terrible it was. So again, sorry for the form letter.”
Can you confirm this? I’d rather not waste my or your time submitting something to be rejected just to find out. But I really like the form letter, if this is true. It is funny.
Is it true?
Good work, everyone. Really. I don’t mean this sarcastically.
And NDR‘s response:
Ryan,I responded on the blog to the inquiry. Yes, the rejection in real, in that it came off of our computer and follows the basic template of our form rejection (and was sent out by a particularly wise-ass editor on our staff), but it is not our usual rejection. However, if I received that rejection, I would totally frame it. People take this business way too seriously – rejections are handed out for a million reasons, the first 900,000 of them being personal taste. But you know all this. Glad it gave you a laugh! Submit your work anyway!-Benjamin S. LowenkronEditor-in-Chief
So it is true, but halfway. It’s not their standard form rejection.
The current editor and then the ‘assmunch’ who originally perpetrated this crime have both posted comments at LROD to explain the situation.
Let the feeding frenzy begin.
October 20th, 2008 / 12:57 pm
That is the first picture to come up if you Google image ‘fuck VQR.’
I have no idea if this is a dumb post or not. And I have no reason to post this, really, except that I like the idea that it will be out there on the internet as a record of VQR‘s momentary stupidity/craziness/awesomeness(?). I stole the information from the guy who runs Literary Rejections on Display, a blog that makes me feel weird.
Ok, so near the end of April, VQR made public on its blog a series of comments that submissions readers had made about certain awful stories, poems, essays in the to-read pile. Then people got mad. Feelings were hurt. Passionate speeches were made. And VQR took down the ‘hurtful’ things and replaced them with kind things. Well, the bandage didn’t work very well, so VQR took those kind things down and replaced them with a letter of apology (sort of?) from editor Ted Genoways.
This is what was originally posted on the blog:
Since I often get a laugh out of reading through some of the notes that our beleaguered readers provide for these particularly unfortunate submissions, it seems worthwhile to share them. Here are some of my favorites:
- The emotional problems of clipping fingernails. Actually the best of his submissions.
- OK, I’m just going to say it. This writing is plain ugly.
- “Soon he fitted his body into mine like a puzzle piece.” NONONONONONONONONO!
- Planet of the Apes fan-fiction! Have we no standards?
- Why does the speaker’s wife only want babies from Chinese shacks? This is the craziest poem. And the scariest. I feel like we should the call the cops on this guy. (There should be a category called “Inappropriate to Humanity.”)
- Unpublished Faulkner. Should remain unpublished.
- I can’t enumerate all the ways in which this is horrible
- This guy has either the best or the worst cover letter ever. As for the poem, barf-o.
The problem with these reader comments is that they aren’t mean enough. And they aren’t that funny, to me anyhow. The fact that VQR posted them is funny, I think.
Okay, the fingernail one makes me laugh a little. I want to read that poem/story.
I know I’m supposed to talk about small presses and online indie stuff. And it is still technically Mean Week, I guess, so I should be mean to VQR somehow. But I am bad at mean. All I really wish is that VQR would do something like this again, so hits rise. Then maybe more people would know about them, like Gawker:
And, finally: What the fuck is The Virginia Quarterly Review?
That is all.
October 17th, 2008 / 6:47 pm