I just got the best rejection letter of my life.
Why should this make me happy? Because a writer's life is filled with form rejections, little slips of paper or single-paragraph emails, as immovable as brick walls.
But a personal rejection, one that proves the slush reader ACTUALLY read your work and, best of all, understood it and liked it (though not enough to publish it) is the greatest response a writer can ask for. Except for the ones that come with a paycheck.
Without further ado, I present my rejection from the anthology Triangulation: End of the Rainbow.
Dear Mr. Roland:
This is an interesting flash piece, but we're going to pass on it. While it's a different take on the theme, we felt the story was not as sharp as it needs to be. Primarily, we need a stronger sense of identification with this character - the background info is interesting, serving as part of the metaphor for our loss of innocent fantasy in the age of Islamic terror - but we don't feel her anxiety about the train bomb, nor do we get close enough to her to viscerally care about her demise. The pieces of this situation need a tighter connection and I suspect the key to that connection is through the character.
Unfortunately, we're not certain a rewrite will solve this problem for us. You're welcome to try a revision and resubmit before the March 30 deadline if you like, but we don't want to offer false hope. Feel free to submit another story if you prefer.
Steve Ramey, Assistant Editor
So, yes, technically I have the option to resubmit. Seeing as I have no other stories that match their theme, I might just try again.
For those of you wondering, yes, his critiques are valid. Though (and this is why feedback is so important) my instincts have never been able to articulate these issues. I wrote this piece on commission for an anthology that was never published, a book of one-page stories based on the visual art of Pyropainter. The word restriction (I have over 500 words to play with and still be considered flash fiction) and visual description (I was describing a creature in a painting) really confined my story, but if I let these things go than who knows who or what I'll find on the page.
I'm excited to give it another go and I'll let you all know what they think about it!
Also, for those interested, this editor keeps a blog where he posts his thoughts on his slush pile and offers great insights into WHY he rejects. Take a read: Ramey Writes