So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How Quickly Can an Editor Say NO?

As I tell my students, rejections are a normal part of writing and we must not take them personally. And, if an editor actually comments on your submission, that is a reason to rejoice.

For several weeks I've worked on an essay for an anthology. The deadline for my submission was November 30. I researched, revised, and sent my essay to my good friend, Ellen, who edited and returned it to me.

She was extremely helpful. I made the changes she suggested. She wanted me to write a more powerful ending and so did I.

While I mulled over my last paragraph, I found I had a fractured vertebrae in my back, visited my sister in the hospital and took dinner to her husband who is recovering from back surgery. That was down in Roswell, GA.

I was about to give up on this essay, feeling I had more important things on my mind. I came home from Atlanta on November 30. It was late in the evening when I decided to try to write an ending that was worthy of my subject, ageism in the writing world.

I hit Send on my computer about 12:20 a.m., and my essay was on its way through cyberspace. I went to bed.
On December 1, I began my doctor's prescription - rest, rest, rest and pain meds every four to six hours.

I opened my e-mail after lunch and there it was. A reply from the editor of the anthology. Wow, I thought. This was fast. They must really like my piece.

But no. My essay was rejected. They had so many submissions and had to divide up the topics, etc. and mine did not make it.

I do believe that was the quickest rejection I have ever received. I wonder if it was even read, but I thanked the editor for reading my work and will take her suggestion to send it out again.

Since I began submitting 15 years ago, my work has been published in about 75 different publications, some journals publish more than one poem or essay. I have my file of rejections and acceptances. I go back and read them occasionally. I have received rejections consisting of one sentence, and I've received rejections written by hand. I've received suggestions on how to improve my poem or essay, but I've never received a rejection or an acceptance within fourteen hours of submitting.

Today's technology - is this a blessing or a curse? I had to laugh.

Have you ever received an acceptance or a rejection that fast?

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  1. That was fast : ) Technology keeps us all moving!

  2. To answer your question: at least three. Like you, I wonder whether you were ever read. As the French say, Tant pis! If any writer needs it, just another lesson in humility.

    I have a question for you: how many submissions have you fiddled with in the hope of hitting the right note, and how many have you stubbornly stayed with because you felt it was as good as it was going to get?

  3. Yes, Tipper, Technology does indeed keep us moving trying to keep up as well as setting our heads awhirl with quick responsees.But now I don't want to give up what I have.

  4. Recently I had a poem returned, and I was aware I had not polished this poem. It said way too much and was more like prose than a poem.
    So I worked on it and have a much better poem. I have had poems that I just knew were finished, but I had suggestions from some of the best poets telling me what I should change.
    However, I did not make changes, and my poem was published just as I wrote it.
    We say in our Netwest poetry group, listen to the critique of your work, but it is still your poem and it is your decision as to whether to change it.
    Publishing is a fickle business. What one turns down another will want.
    Thanks for stopping by, Joan.

  5. Glenda - I got an e-rejection to an e-query for for my YA mystery in a matter of minutes. I'm confident nobody read it. I couldn't have read it that quickly and I already knew what it said. My favorite rejection for a different mystery was an agent who bluntly said, "I hate amateur detectives." At least, I knew where he was coming from and that he read enough of the query to reject it for a legitimate reason.

  6. No Glenda, I have not been rejected that quickly, yet. I'm sure that it is my future, also.


  7. I have never got a rejection that fast. But, I guess it is better than waiting 6 months or more and never hearing from someone. Finding a place to send my stories to is one of the hardest things for me. I write and I saw your blog listed on Tipper's site and came over to check you out.

  8. Hi Janet,'
    Thank you for coming over from Tipper's wonderful site to visit me.
    Knowing where to send work is hard and takes time. I will list a few more places I've found in the coming days. Check back.


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