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Sunday, November 19, 2006

I'm framing in polyester a recent letter of rejection (from an "innovative" press, penned by an intern as a "composite" of editorial comments) as a prime example of what a rejection letter shouldn't be, namely, an arrogant, offensively inappropriate/viciously personal, wildly unprofessional and superficial hypocriticism masquerading as a letter of rejection. The letter (inter alia) reduced all of my writings (those in the collection and beyond, all of which weren't actually READ, as the ad hominem remarks show) to "absurdism for absurdism's sake" (a completely unfounded conclusion), accused me of engaging in "borscht-belt frivolity" (I kid you not!) and playing with the language as though it were "Silly Putty" (my bad), while at the same time, offering "a constellation of zanily fine, perfect-pitch lines."

Now, really, letter writer/"composite" -- you shouldn't be trashing the language you've just praised. Tis a bit confusing. And is language as sacro-saint as the Ameerican flag? One can't play with it? Hmm. I can think of many great authors who have! Then we have the final accusation I care to relay. Anorectic brain here without any life experience all those long, difficult, stressful years in the trenches of the gritty world has nothing of import to say, no truths to offer, nothing meaningful to impart. Oh, dear oh dear. Lucky I have the support and appreciation of many writers other than those involved with the press.

Those responsible for the contents of the letter should be ashamed that it was mailed. It's quite possible that the editors didn't read it. I wish they would. They should read every letter that goes out to hapless submitters. A simple, thanks but no thanks letter would've done fine. We mad hatters have been thanked by many a poor rejectee for the courtesy and consideration we show in our letters of rejection. The unnecessary and unfair vilification in this letter tells me far more about the state of the press than it does about my offerings. I would've welcomed constructive criticism. If the collection was deemed generally uneven or the editors felt that I shouldn't have included some of the pieces, I would have appreciated their telling me.

All of us writers are used to rejection. It's not the rejection that bothers me. Let me make that clear to anyone who reads this post. Some press will publish my collection or my revised collection, sooner or later.

May those of you intent on publishing in alleged "innovative" presses (well, really, any independent press) be forewarned. A press that considers itself "progressive," yet lets such an inappropriate rejection letter out into the world, cannot be trusted to give anything but short shrift to submissions. In this case, I was invited to submit by someone who isn't currently involved with the press. And I've broken bread with one of the editors and met two others. I admire and respect them as writers; they've both complimented me on my writings. No matter. Do lots of homework before you waste time and money submitting your precious collections and novels.

Give me some boiled fish with the sour pickles and tough tripe, please! I have a bad case of indigestion.

Onward up the glass mountain!

--- The Frivolous Borscht-Belt Babe


Jai said...

oh Carol it really is amazing what these (mainly) male interns feel is appropriate as a response. arrogance, pomposity and priggishness are traits I abhor. sorry you've had this reaction. Pity you can't name and shame though I understand why you do not. Push on to the next press, as you say someone will snap it up.

Julie Ann Shapiro said...

I can pass over a bottle of Tequila, no borscht in the house. At least this moronic intern commented...better than the over used cliche, "not right for us."

I know your collection will get recognized. Patience is not something I can pass over with the tequila. Mine's in short supply too. But maybe a cyber shot glass could come your way and a kind acceptance.

Happy Thanks Giving.


Carol Novack said...

Thanks, but those were gratuitious, snide, supercilious insults, not comments, Julie, and I don't know the Boy from a blackhole, into which I firmly hope he will disappear with all other editors who don't bother to read submissions. As I said, a simple thanks but no thinks would've been fine.