It’s a vicious cycle, writing, isn’t it? I received a form-rejection letter last week for a story I submitted back in May. While I understand they can’t publish everything, I really do dislike it when their sole reason is “Unfortunately, it’s not quite right for our magazine.” No, you can’t publish everything, nor can you write a personalized rejection letter for the hundreds of submissions you get. But “not quite right” seems like a copout to me. It tells you nothing. I can only imagine some lady is sitting behind her desk reading these stories, and a mystical cloud hovers over her head as she finishes each one. If the cloud doesn’t form just so, or it’s a little thin here, a little discolored there, it’s not quite right and out of the slush pile and into the trash the story goes. That’s well and good for them, but what about us? What about the people who throw themselves into their writing, spending months or even years crafting what they believe to be an amazing piece of writing?
I’m sure they understand what it’s like for writers, and many, if not all, probably don’t want to hurt the writer’s feelings. But they could at least take two seconds to write something a little more personal. Don’t they always want you to personalize your query? Courtesy goes both ways. Before everyone jumps on the Hate Wagon and tells me that they’re busy, and I should be grateful they even read each story, I want to say that I get it. I really do. But that’s what interns are for! Or they could construct multiple form letters. For example, “Unfortunately, the characters weren’t very compelling;” or perhaps “While the story was enjoyable, we don’t think that it’s the kind of theme our readers would like.” Those I understand. Those wouldn’t make me angry, which is what I was—angry. That beats crying, though.
Now that I’m no longer angry, I’ve decided to look at that story and see if I can reshape it into one for adults. Let’s face it. There are more outlets for adult-geared writing than YA. We’ll see what happens.
In the meantime, I might experiment and turn one of my YA novels into present tense. How do you all feel about present tense?