Even though the personal note in this rejection letter refers to a previous story of mine, I have no recollection of having submitted an earlier story to Neotrope. Maybe I’ll come across that rejection letter as I continue to troll through my archive of rejection letters.
This one, of course, stands out not only for the personal note, but also because it clearly indicates the title of the rejected story — “Bobby” — making it one of the few cases where I can identify the precise story rejected AND one of the few cases where the story actually ended up in public somewhere! You can read “Bobby” at Figment.com right here: http://figment.com/books/119925-Bobby
If you can’t read that note, it says:
“–Thanks for writing again; sorry we can’t help out. This one was pretty close, but not quite what we’re after. I remember your other story, though, and I think this one was a lot better, so keep going in this direction. Note our new address below; good luck finding the right spot for this story–”
Wow. That was huge for me. Really. Encouraging and confident. It made me feel like I wasn’t just spinning my wheels, churning out crap to be rejected over and over again — I was making progress. Getting better. Anyone who ever tells you that there’s no gold in a rejection letter, tell ’em they’re nuts!