|Actual rejection slips fielded by an actual writer who shall remain unnamed|
This is what it says:
Dear Writer, Unfortunately this submission does not meet our current needs. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to read it and good luck.
- The Editorial Staff.
But you're certain it says this:
Thanks for sending this piece of shit submission. We laughed our asses off over it! Greggers thought the crap about the broad knitting booties for the dead baby was so funny, he highlighted it and tacked the page on the break room bulletin board. Trudy laughed so hard at the blood scene that Diet Pepsi squirted out her nose.
Publish it? Yeah, right. Maybe in our "Greatest Shits" issue. Ha!
You poor chump. Are you butt-ugly on top of being a no-talent hack? Got a body odor problem? Thank Christ you're miles away in the Mistake-on-the-Lake and not in our hallowed New York.
Why not trade in the keyboard for a nice repetitive factory job? Or you could learn how to extinguish burning rivers. Get it? Burning rivers? God, I'm killing myself over here!
If you have any more melodramatic slop like this, do send it our way. We can always use a good laugh.
- The Beautiful, Thin, Copiously Published Staffers of Machete Magazine
Now baby, I know you've honorably honored their no-simultaneous-submission policy for the 17 months they've had your story. I know that, per their 42 submission guidelines (which you had to request via USPS with a self-addressed stamped #10 envelope), you used 11-point Lucinda Grande font on 24-pound bond paper with the inclusion of your name, address, Social Security number, age, weight, height, sexual orientation and dental records (on the title page only). I know you sent the submission 12 weeks prior to their annual reading period (Nov. 1-7) as directed. Hence, I understand why you want to respond to this rejection with a letter that begins with "Dear Cocksuckers."
Resist this urge.
The writing world is small. You do not want to find yourself in front of "Dear Cocksucker" as his eyes narrow to slits and his lips curl into a thin smile. "Oh yes," he'll slowly purr. "I remember you." Not good. But I understand that you need to do something, so I offer the following suggestions.
A solid roll in the hay is one of my favorite ways to dampen the hard edges of rejection aftermath. Unlike the cheez-a-thon, it's carb-free and will not act as a suppository for your aorta. Unlike option 2, you can do this at home and you'll remember it. So go find a willing partner and break out the Batman suit and Crisco. As you lie upon the bed with smoky-eyed satisfaction, take a moment to congratulate yourself for succeeding at something. And hey, if you need to do it alone in order to circumvent any additional rejection, that's fine too. Just don't tell anyone about the Batman suit.
Now that you've amply soothed your fragile ego with gluttony, booze or sex, it's time to step out of the self-pity cloud.
Get a steaming cuppa something and sit down at the computer. Open that short story and print it out. Read it. Yeah, that second section is anemic. Cut out all those modifiers and let the verbs do the work. Delete, delete, delete. Fix the language at the end and give the main character a perfect detail, anything to help flesh him out (maybe he loves cheese fondue to a fault). There you go. That's much better. Now sleep on it.
In the morning, go over it one more time and polish. Pull out your Writer's Market. Run your finger down the pages. Stop at the first literary magazine entry listed after Machete Magazine.
You know what you have to do next.
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