Two more rejections

I have received two more rejections since the last post.

One was for my story “The closet”, which is about a mysterious black void that changes things for both better and worse after they are placed inside it. The rejection came from Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine Editor Gordon Van Gelder who wrote:

“Many thanks for Submitting “The Closet,” but I’m going to pass on this one. I’m afraid this Twilight Zone-ish story didn’t quite grab me, alas. Thanks anyway for sending it my way and best luck to you with this one.”

At first glance the rejection seems soft and nice, but after getting a few of these you can read between the lines.  Let’s break it down:

“Many thanks for Submitting “The Closet,” but I’m going to pass on this one”

First off, I never realized that you put the comma within the quotes, before the conjunction on a sentence like that.  I assume he is correct in doing this, the man is an editor after all, so I am going to tuck that grammar tip away for later.

I also like his fun, loose tone in the rejection letter. There is no “Dear sir” from this guy just a “Many thanks,” like he’s wearing sandals and chewing on a beef jerky while responding.

Breaking it down to what this sentence really means, I get:

“I am not going to buy your story”

He then goes on to say:

“I’m afraid this Twilight Zone-ish story didn’t quite grab me, alas.”

Translation:

“You ripped off of the Twilight Zone. It was obvious, and I didn’t like it.”

He did use the word “alas”, and when I read that I first pictured him in a regretful whimsical sigh, but then I realized I am not even sure what “alas” means.  I always kind of thought it was like the conjunction “but”, except Gordon used it at the end of a sentence, so I looked it up by typing  “Define: alas” into my favorite search engine.

This is what Google had to say:

Alas: Unfortunately: by bad luck; “unfortunately it rained all day”; “alas, I cannot stay”

So the full sentence really translates to:

“You ripped off of the Twilight Zone.  It was obvious, and unfortunately I didn’t like it.”

Editor Gordon then ends with:

“Thanks anyway for sending it my way and best luck to you with this one.”

Translation:

“Please don’t send this to me again, or anything like it.”

I also stumbled on  “best luck” as I have always heard that phrased as “best of luck”.  I wonder if Gordon missed a word or if that’s actually the proper way we should be using the phrase.  Maybe the addition of the word “of” is just an idiom we all picked up over time?

I consider if I should start saying ‘Best luck” from here on out and think:  What am I the Queen of England?  What do I care if I’m not proper?

I decide that I am still going to use it my way, with “of” tucked neatly in between “best” and “luck”.

To drop the “of” would be like calling this guy “Gordon Gelder.” I am pretty sure “van” translates to “of”, and that his last name, Van Gelder, at one time literally meant “of Gelder” or “of Gold” or something like that.

I find a certain degree of pleasurable irony in all that.

Translating the whole thing we get:

“I am not going to buy your story. You ripped off of the Twilight Zone; it was obvious, and unfortunately, I didn’t like it.  Please don’t send this to me again, or anything like it”

I would love to get a note so full of refreshing candor like that, but Editors have to maintain all this tact so as not to drive the other unqualified, and much less stable, writers into a gun toting rage.

The second rejection came from Ty Drago, Editor of Allegory E-zine.

OK, is it just me, or is “Ty Drago” the absolutely coolest name ever?  I mean that name could pass for either a superhero or a super villain. The Ty part makes him sound warm and friendly, like that guy on the home makeover show, and “Drago” just sounds like, if you did some genealogy research, you may be able to trace his bloodline right back to Satan.

This is what Mr. Coolest-name-ever wrote:

“Thanks for letting us ‘Things Remembered.” I regret to say that it’s just not right for Allegory.

 

Here’s what our editor had to say:

>

> What I liked: The imaginative plot

>

> Reason for rejection:   Could benefit from some editing. Punctuation

> errors (dialogue tags, lack of commas); spelling errors, repetitive

> use of the word ‘it’ and ‘that’.  Small stuff, but distracting.

>

 

I’m sorry. Best of luck with this one in other markets.

 

– Ty Drago

– Editor

– Allegory

Clearly this was submitted before I boned up on grammar.  Or at least did some boning. Er…  you know what I mean.

Let’s still break it down and see what Ty really meant:

“Thanks for letting us “Things Remembered.” I regret to say that it’s just not right for Allegory.”

Once again I stumbled while reading, this time it was on the disconnect between  “us” and “’Things Remembered’”.  It looks like I am supposed to infer the word “see” in between, but I am guessing it’s just an oversight/typo on his part.

It’s also kind of a slap in the face when they go on to rip about my grammar problems.

Translation:

“I am not going to buy your story”

Next line:

“Here’s what our editor had to say”

 

What? I thought your title was Editor?  Wait, are you are a slush pile reader, or a maybe just a guy who knows how to run the e-mail a lot better than the editor?  Because I can see the “>” symbols showing me that the editor forwarded an e-mail back to you…. I guess, a filter is probably the best term for you.

But I then realize that may also mean my story made it through one reader, and onto the big chief, before getting the final rejection. That seems kind of cool.

And then I get all “conspiracy theory” and wonder if Ty Drago didn’t just add the >’s himself.

It would work so well; making it look like my story made it’s way through to the editor, and was seriously considered. Plus there is the whole “power of the third party” thing where I can’t really get mad at Drago for things the editor had commented about, and apparently there is no name to this higher up editor, so there is no way for me to go ballistic on him/her.

I then think that maybe Ty is the Editor and someone else runs the e-mail on his behalf, using his name.

I decide that’s what I am going to believe.  It’s probably healthier than conspiracy.

I continue to read between the lines.

“> What I liked: The imaginative plot”

 

At first glance, this comment makes me feel really good about my story. Like there is some hope since I at least have an imaginative plot.  But then I realize if you were going to pick one thing that could generically apply to, and flatter, all writers, commenting about how creative the plot is, would be that thing.

No writer who submits a story thinks “I hope my rip off of Star Wars goes over well.”   Everyone thinks that they have some unique and original twist in their own story.  Even though there is a whole Joseph Campbell-ish mindset out there that there is really only one story and all other stories are spin offs.

Translation:

“There was nothing positive about this story.”

Next lines:

> Reason for rejection:   Could benefit from some editing. Punctuation

> errors (dialogue tags, lack of commas); spelling errors, repetitive

> use of the word ‘it’ and ‘that’.  Small stuff, but distracting.

Jeez, slow down on using three lines to reject it. I get it already – I are bad at grammar.

Although I was surprised on the “it” and “that” comment.  I didn’t realize I had such a problem with it/that.

Translation:

“You fail to grasp English. ”

Next Line:

I’m sorry. Best of luck with this one in other markets.

 

(~See~ this guy said “Best of luck”)

Mr. Best-name-ever actually spelled out “other” markets to me.  So not only does he not want to see this story again, but maybe I should also try to hit the minor leagues with it and the rest of whatever I have to offer him.

Translation:

“I’m laughing at you. Don’t send anything to me again. You are way in over your head.“

When we put it all together this is what Ty really had to say:

“I am not going to buy your story. There was nothing positive about this story.  You fail to grasp English. I’m laughing at you. Don’t send anything to me again. You are way in over your head.”

It seems harsh, but I think, pretty accurate.  It’s just too bad that editors don’t feel like they are able to write that candidly.

And don’t think for a minute any of this has gotten me down.  I just need to polish up another batch of my crap and send it off to annoy yet another league of editors.

James

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5 Responses to Two more rejections

  1. KC says:

    Isn’t rejection (in it’s many forms…) FUN, my friend? 🙂 I am so glad they do not get you down. Since you are not on fire, I suggest you keep writing-FOR YOURSELF; for your own pleasure, and not to try to please editors as they seem to be such fickle folk. It must feel good to rip into tiny shreds, their replies to your submissions. Keep it up but only if it helps you feel BETTER!

    St. Francis of Assisi said (I’m paraphrasing here) we are to rejoice when men revile us and persecute us. Hot damn, we have some celebrating to do!!!

    KC

  2. Ty Drago says:

    Ty Drago here. Honestly. Firstly, thanks for the compliments on my name; it really is my own! Secondly, I apologize for the rejection. The fact is that we receive between 400 and 500 submissions for each issue and only buy eight. So the bar tends to be set very high. Mathematically, any story sent to Allegory starts off with roughly a 1.6% to 2% chance of being accepted. Those are long odds to beat. Thirdly, I didn’t personally read your story. The editorial comments were taken, verbatim, from the remarks passed on to me by one of our associate editors. While I do read a good many submissions myself, it simply isn’t practical for me to read them all. Who reads what is entirely random.

    I did, however, type up the rejection letter you received. Mostly likely, I had twenty or so to get through at that time and, well, got sloppy. That’s why there are words omitted and typos. Sorry.

    And, finally, PLEASE don’t take any rejection to heart. I’m a writer myself and have, over the years, received hundreds of the darned things. It’s simply part of the business. While I didn’t personally read your story, I doubt very much that “Things Remembers” was, in any way, a terrible story. Most likely, it was a good story, but with small technical problems (grammer, etc.) that dropped it below that bar I mentioned earlier.

    Hang in there. Don’t give up. Keep writing.

    – Ty

    P.S.: A friend stumbled onto your blog and forwarded it to me. I don’t generally respond to such things, but this time I felt it was justified. Please know that I really do wish you all the best with your writing!

  3. Thanks Ty,

    I am very honored to have your comment on my blog. I do, however, feel a bit sheepish after rereading the initial post I wrote. Please know that this was a few years ago after an ego killing onslaught of rejection letters, so frustration may have caused my perspective to become a bit askew.

    I also want you to know that we writers (yes, even the unpublished ones) are appreciative of the selfless work you do as an editor. I liken being an editor to that of a referee, you don’t get rich doing it, both the players and the fans often hate you, but you do it for the love of the game, and the game couldn’t go on without you.

    So please do keep blowing the whistle when you see a foul, and I promise to do my best to get better at the game.

    Regards,

    James

    P.S. Thanks again for Allegory . 15 years already!

    • Ty Drago says:

      James,

      No foul, truly! I just wanted to clarify the email you you’d received from us.

      I get the frustration. God knows I do. Rejection letters? I’ve got more than a hundred of damned things. It’s easy for an editor, me included, to say that it’s just part of the business…but the fact is that writers pour their hearts and souls into work that editors must then, by necessity, hastily judge and usually refuse.

      You have nothing to apologize for. Actually, I found your essay rather poignant and very funny.

      Email me, if you would, at editor@allegoryezine.com. I have something I’d like to discuss with you in a less public forum.

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