My Favorite Rejection Letter for a Short Story of Mine

I’m 17 years old, a sophomore in college, and I’ve just begun my 100 rejections a year or bust routine, severed all connections with writers who haven’t sold anything and were giving me bad advice, and started a weblog at geocities (yeah, I’ve been blogging/journaling for 7 years and I’m not famous like slashdot or instapundit yet, damnit!). I’m a nobody, and all I have to mention in my cover letter is that I’m 17 years old.

Here it goes:

Dear Mr. Buckell:
Thank you for showing us “Eckman’s Starship.” Unfortunately, it’s not for us. Although we haven’t accepted your submission, I was impressed by not only your imagination, but your level of prose style and grammatical proficiency-far better than much older writes.

Author comment. I have trouble believing that. I get so much assistance with my drafts from Emily, other writers, editors, and copy editors. I’m constantly working on this stuff. Particularly considering the way they formatted the 3rd line of the following paragraph made me twitch my eyebrows about the grammar statement. But to continue…

You maintain a developed narrative control over your story, but we feel it loses it toward the end as you try to wrap everything up. Parts of the story are good, but we think it’s a victim of overkill. You know the phrase, “Everything, and the kitchen sink”? Try cutting down on subject matter. Assassination and political upheaval are hard enough to pull off in short story form. You took on those topics, plus the Internet and an alien space craft in 3,200 words. If I had to write a blurb for this story: Dr. Sterlingstein’s Monster meets Neuromancer meets Deserted Cities of the Heart meets Independence Day.

What can I say in my defense? I dreamed big! 🙂

To be honest, I kinda wish the story hadn’t gotten lost in the great hard drive crash of ’97. After rereading this rejection I’m actually kinda curious to go back and read the story after all these years!

But I did reexamine my short fiction methodology after that and started trying to cut down. Maybe focus on just social upheaval and assissination without the Internet and alien Starships 🙂

7 thoughts on “My Favorite Rejection Letter for a Short Story of Mine”

  1. This is in 1997…and all I have to mention in my cover letter is that I’m 17 years old.
    Jesus, I feel old.

  2. I refuse to feel old. What’s a decade or so amongst friends?
    Have you considered assassinating the Internet?

  3. Hmm, good one Rachel 🙂
    Scott: I have 60 some stories. I don’t have anywhere to put that many hard copies.
    Maybe once I get a house. But then, they can still burn.
    Now I keep a firewire drive backup up of my hard drive in a fireproof box.

  4. Backup drive good. Also got a CD (updated every so often) with writing files in the safe deposit box, snuggled up next to the mortgage papers.
    After all, a drive in a fireproof box can still be stolen.

  5. I’ve got my completed stuff backed up on a jump drive I carry on my keychain, on electronic media in a fireproof box, on a restricted part of my web host’s server, hardcopy at home, hardcopy at my parent’s house (the hardcopies are not in ms format).
    The works in progress are only backed up on the jump drive and whatever ends up in the routine system backups.

Comments are closed.