No, no — this feature will not be about the times women have laughed in my face after I asked them out. I write books about that, people, and you have to pay for that stuff. (Or pirate it for free and risk your immortal soul. Hey, it’s your call.)
This is just a trip down a different kind of Memory Lane.
A while back, I posted my favorite rejection letter ever (spoiler alert: it’s from Hustler magazine, but it’s totally SFW). People seemed to dig seeing that, so I’ve decided that every Friday will be This Week in Rejection! Yes, each Friday I will regale you with a rejection letter from my misbegotten youth.
Most of these will, sadly, be form letters. But hey — maybe you’ll get a chuckle out of seeing these old rejections, or maybe they’ll just be interesting to you for whatever reason. I’m thinking that for form letters, I’ll leave the name of the editor in question (if available) since he or she clearly was OK with sending out mass quantities of these things anyway. But when we get to letters with personal comments, I’ll probably blur out the names. Does that sound kosher?
I’ll kick things off with the very first rejection I ever received, from Asimov’s Science Fiction. This would have been around age 13, I believe (maybe 14) and it was the first time I ever submitted a story for publication. (The precise details of the story are a little hazy for me. Something about an earthling kidnapped by an alien race whose religion told them that their job was to imbue a human with omnipotent power.) I’m sure it was crap, and Asimov’s was quite right to reject it.
Interestingly, though, I was completely mystified by publishing at so young an age. I had no idea how many people flooded magazines and publishers with submissions. I truly thought that it went like this: 1) I send in a story. 2) They like it. 3) They buy it. I truly, naively had no idea that there was any other option, so when I got the rejection, I wasn’t hurt or horrified. I was just confused. I almost wrote a letter back explaining that they’d clearly made some sort of mistake.
Fortunately, I caught on before I took that step.
So, here’s the first letter. Click for a bigger version.