I’m a big girl. I understand that not every journal needs work like mine. I’ve even been the editor sending out the letters. Perhaps that’s why I cringe and wilt some every time I get one; I know that “this writing is terrible; don’t they know it’s awful?” may have actually crossed the mind of the poor editor experiencing my submission. I realize that we’d all like to believe that the editor is some kind-hearted tooth-fairy-type, but that’s because no one, me included, wants to confront the reality.
Editors are beasts. They are protecting the design and poetic aesthetic of their publications. They are working against deadlines, juggling full-time employment, and often facing bankruptcy. Any writer’s work that doesn’t fit in with the view or vision of that press gets rejected. On rare occasions, the work actually fits the aesthetic, but the caliber of the work doesn’t reach the level of other submissions.
Frankly, maybe I used too many ‘to be’ verbs. Maybe the editor didn’t appreciate my line breaks. Maybe that profound moment which was authentic and true for me feels sentimental and overblown to the editor. On some higher, cerebral level, I respect that.
It still sucks.
I even have a system for dealing with this situation. I almost always have something out for review. That way when the rejection letter comes from one press, there’s still the chance that something else will be picked up elsewhere. It’s the eternal cycle.
Unfortunately when I receive one of these letters, inevitably I stop writing, even if it’s only for a few days. I just get the wind knocked out for a bit and need to regroup before I can keep writing. Every so often, I actually get a letter which show time and effort because the editor actually addresses me personally. But mostly I wait six months, only to be told “We regret to inform you that we did not accept your work for publication at this time. Feel free to submit again.”