culling


What should I do with my rejection letters? Here’s an interesting idea: http://www.lulu.com/tp. If I pay $90, they’ll take all my letters and turn them into toilet paper. The idea is inspired by Winston Churchill, who once replied to a nasty note:

“Dear Sir, I am in the smallest room of the house and your letter is before me. Very soon it will be behind me.”

But I’ve decided to take the high road and learn from my mistakes. Sometimes it isn’t easy, though. For example, a recent letter said:

“Thank you for submitting (title) to (magazine). It was well received here, but after some thought we have decided not to accept it for publication.”

Not very helpful. Please, let me know the flaws so I can fix them. Another one was more direct:

“I like dark science fiction and the farm setting here, but the story didn’t resonate for me as strongly as I would have liked.”

Still ambiguous. Resonate?
Every now and then, I’ll get a helpful one:

“The situation was interesting, but it was a bit slow-moving for me.”

Eureka—I can fix that! Wham-bam-pow, how do you like me now?

“The ending didn’t feel like it gave me any answers. There was a lot of tension in the confrontation that didn’t feel quite justified by the explanation given.”

Again, I say thank you. Now I have something to improve.

At present, I have about two dozen letters in my rejection pile. I know it’s nothing compared to the hundred or more I’m bound to amass prior to crossing that threshold into the Published Land. Ray Bradbury is reported to have received a thousand of them. But if I follow his advice to “accept rejection and reject acceptance,” someday I’m bound to understand what he means.