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I love it when a literary journal that prides itself on publishing innovative fiction rejects my work by pointing out as problematic exactly that element which most departs from convention.

29 thoughts on “#$%!

  1. Well, just because a thing is non-conventional doesn’t mean it is successfully non-conventional.

    But that’s tangential… I agree with your point. I’ve generally learned to distrust a magazine’s self-description as innovative.

    1. Well, that’s true. Fortunately, in this case I’m 100% certain that it’s entirely successful. Alas, some editors haven’t been quite up to the task of recognizing this success for what it is.

          1. well, editorially speaking, the confidence that i have made the right decisions on a piece is equal to the confidence i have as a writer in the stories that i send out.

            however, if i’ve yet to be accused of missing a successful story or poem i’m quite certain it will happen soon enough :)

            1. How satisfying it would be to hear from an editor who rejected work that eventually became well-regarded, and who subsequently reconsidered their own perspective on the work they rejected!

              1. i remember reading something from some editor who rejected an early Jonathan Lethem story, and like a month later was seeing Lethem’s work everywhere. i think he said something like “oh well, can’t get them all”

                  1. i think when we win our pulitzers, shya, that we should organize a “sinners party” for all the editors who rejected our work, where they will have an opportunity to atone.

                    1. We will allow them to prostrate themselves before us. But only for a minute or so. Then we’ll kick them aside to make room. The line will be long, and we won’t have all night.

                  2. Ha, when I was running a reprint market, I would frequently read something, go “eh…. on the edge…. we’ll go with no” then find myself thinking about the story for months and go back and say, “Er, that thing I rejected, can I have it now?”

                    This is the benefit of reprints. I could, indeed, have my initial mistaken rejection and eat the cake later, too.

                1. Nor should they get them all. Decisions should be based on a particular editor at a particular journals needs at a particular time. The spaces I’m eager to appear interest me because they’re really deliberately curated, which I think can mean they often reject good work by perfectly talented people.

  2. At least they pointed out something. Lately, I am on a roll with journals that scrimped on buying a “Reply” function for their email software.

  3. Sometimes. But a couple have had new issues come and go, and haven’t replied to follow up emails, either.

    But that’s okay. I’m focusing my energies on being antsy about agent response times right now, rather than journals.

      1. If I don’t get rejected for something at least 3 or 4 times each week, I start to feel good about myself. And we can’t have that, can we?

          1. I expect rejections, and that’s fine. I’m used to it by now. But the waiting I don’t seem to get used to and it still drives me crazy.

            1. this is pretty much how i feel about it. i feel like i can separate myself from 99% of the rejections, but i get antsy waiting for them. then again, i’ve always had patience problems…

  4. Personally, I find that most journals seem to want familiar-type things. (Not your journal, of course, whoever is reading this.) For the most part, most of the work I see in any given journal looks like most of the other work in that journal. This goes even for the so-called “experimental” journals (some of which really are experimental, in certain context).

    I think what’s really rare is to find editors who are open to a wide range of styles.

    Think about your own experiences and predilections. I think that if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that we, too, head first toward what’s most familiar. When I’m scanning a list of contributors to a journal, my eye gravitates toward the names I know, regardless of whether I like their work. And I breeze through journals where I don’t recognize any names. It doesn’t mean I won’t look at it (of course), but it gets filed behind what I already do know.

    It’s human nature. We’re scanning the world, looking for things we recognize. It takes work to branch out from there. People should do that work, of course, but I’m never surprised when they don’t. Disappointed, yes, often, but never surprised.

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