A note on rejection and a couple I've received.
By Christopher Michael Carter
As I've stated before, I'm no stranger to rejection. If the submission isn't altogether ignored it's usually met with "No", "Not for us", "We don't do things like this", etc etc. But I saved two of them I thought were interesting; well, one was interesting to ME and the other I found hilarious. Side-note: While going through my email to find them to post on here I found others that were comic script submissions that said "Good story, but we don't match up artists with writers" — something I've gotten a lot.
So, some years ago some friends of mine lost their little boy (about 3/4 yr old) to sudden illness. Afterwards, my friend and his mother (the boy's grandmother) would have these religious arguments as to why the boy had to die. I wrote a very small story/piece called "The Child & God". With it's size being so short and small I really had nowhere it could go and had thought it would be great as a magazine story. I emailed and submitted it to almost every religious magazine I could find. It was mostly ignored and met with a few "Not for us", BUT I did get THIS response from one:
Thank you for the piece – but you don’t say who you are or why you chose to send it to me. Was it because I am editor of The Square?
If so, it is probably not likely to be used by us but of course you bring home the illogicality of much religious thinking. I don’t know what you do, or your background, but many have sought to explain these illogicalities with deists. Atheists, latitudinarians, pantheists etc etc. All, at some point, hit their own wall of illogicality. Are you a Freemason? I only ask because you sent the copy to a masonic magazine. For our part we skirt the illogicality by requiring a belief in some force or order behind the universe (call it God for convenience) but accept all interpretations of this and do not require you to qualify what your definition might be. For you, God may be the laws of physics – but that doesn’t explain how and why it all started either ………..
What your paper actually says is that human existence is fragile, unfair and unpredictable. Some would argue that these are the very causes of our human development and are thus essential in the grander scheme of things – whatever that might be. Small comfort, of course, if it is your child who is lost.
Now, it was TOTALLY my fault that I didn't pay much attention to whom I was sending it to; they were simply on the list of contacts I had found matching my search. When I had started finally sending things out it was in the most random and haphazard way; then again, that's how I found Supposed Crimes who published my first book. So there's pros and cons to ignorance in submitting. The reason why this struck me so interesting is the word count in this email alone was probably long than the piece I wrote. It's also been the only time any of my work has ever really been picked apart and dissected thoroughly like this. I've had questions about the poetry book (Largely being "Where did the title come from?") but nothing like this. So I thought this was pretty interesting when it could've been a simple "Not really for us as we don't do this kinda thing" and instead actually read it and read INTO it. I'm still, to this day, used to people reading my work and not really putting too much thought into it.
Now for a totally different rejection: I wrote what I would consider a "domestic horror story" about a wealthy stepfather who threatens his stepdaughter that if she doesn't give in to his sexual demands then he's cutting her off. This kind of story has been done plenty of times but, as a writer, you'll find times when you think "You know I've never gotten to do my version of one of (fill in the blank) kind of stories." That's what I did with the story called "The Cut Off". Now it's going into a horror anthology I'll probably be pushing to get out next year once it's completed. However, at the time, I had nowhere to put it so I sent it to publishers, online publishers, magazines, etc. Most of these publishers, mind you, claim to be looking for edgy young writers. The Cut Off is about 11 pages long and, as I said a "domestic horror story" of revenge and etc. So I sent it out and usually was met with the No's and Not for us, etc. But this...this email was special. It didn't hurt, but made me laugh out loud and call a friend up and we laughed together. My friend said, "Dude, save that!" Here it is,
This is so utterly ridiculous, offensive, and poorly written I can't believe you'd possibly consider it a worthy submission.
Do not, under any circumstances, email me again.
I've thought about sending them a copy of the anthology when it's released.
Along with story submissions I've sent out numerous comic book scripts. I know most places don't want JUST scripts but I was advised "Just send stuff anyway. If they say 'no', nothing changes." And it's a good rule to live by when submitting your work — if it's declined, you're in the same place you were before sending it. I will say, something I've found interesting among the comic book industry is, much like literary publishers, they claim to want something new, original, and edgy and when I'd send a script matching such criteria, I was emailed back with lines such as "Interesting but we're looking for something more along the lines of Justice League."
Stuff to keep in mind when you're sending your work out.