EVERY WEEK, REJECTION LETTERS FROM MY PAST. BECAUSE THE HURT GOES AWAY AFTER A COUPLE OF DECADES.

THIS WEEK IN REJECTION!

This Week in Rejection!: Aboriginal Science Fiction

This is a good one.

Of course, at first blush, this is just a generic form letter rejection. And that’s certainly how I looked at it at the time. But take a closer look (and click for a bigger version).

 

Aboriginal SF

 

This is a fabulous, terrific, and encouraging rejection letter. I certainly didn’t see it that way when I received it, and more’s the pity.

The initial cross-out of “Contributor” and replacement with my name doesn’t mean much by itself — that could just be a polite intern or an in-house policy designed to lessen the sting of a rejection.

But the checklist of “what’s wrong” is very helpful. It tells me what I did wrong, but also tells me what I got right. Look at everything that isn’t checked off. This letter should have thrilled me — I can fix too much exposition. And I can always submit another, more original story.

But those were really the only problems with the story I submitted. Every other checkbox — those relating to the real guts of writing — was left blank. So the story wasn’t that bad.

And then, of course, there’s the circling of “try again,” emphasizing that idea, telling me that the editor saw promise in my work and wanted to see more.

Unfortunately, I was too callow to understand or appreciate the real message of this letter. I saw “No” when what it reallysays is, “Not this one.” An important distinction.

So, if you find yourself on the receiving end of a similar rejection, allow yourself a few moments to mourn a missed opportunity, but then get back behind the keyboard and go make another opportunity!

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