Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nothing Personal

The other day I got what I thought was a rejection slip in the mail. These are easy to spot because they arrive in a self-addressed envelope. That means I can see my name and address just as I wrote them when I submitted to this or that literary journal. In the past some of these rejections have turned out to be acceptances. Apparently, some editors are so busy that they can't pick up the phone or send an email to tell you that they're taking your story. Or even to address a new envelope in which to send the happy notice along with the contract. Once I got an acceptance that looked so much like a rejection that I didn't even read it for a couple of months. I just tucked it in a drawer with the rest of the rejections.  It was a sad, crumpled little piece of paper and at the top it said, "Congratulations" and then they'd written in the name of my story. And then at the bottom I was supposed to sign over the rights and send the lonely little piece of paper back. Of course, that never happened. I never read it until the editors sent me a little note wondering where my contract was.  As my four-year-old would say, "Oops-ees!"

The newest acceptance tops this in terms of anonymity. It's a little preprinted card with the words "Dear Writer" at the top. Then a big space. Then the words "We have chosen to publish" and then another big space in which someone wrote the title to my story in ink and then the rest of the one line acceptance letter "in a future issue of" and then the magazine title. Signed, "The Editors."

That's it. Are they kidding with this? They like the story well enough to publish it, but not well enough to have any contact with the writer. They provided no phone number, no email address, no way to get in touch with them. Never mind that the story has already been accepted by another journal. I'm sort of hoping these folks don't go ahead and publish it without further contact with me. That would be awkward.

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