Saturday, April 13, 2013

Response to a Rejection Letter (not recommended as a template)

Dear Slushpile Reader:

Thank you for your recent rejection letter concerning my short story, “Screaming in the Gutter.” As a sender of such tidings, I’m sure you’re aware of the part you play in the long history of the genre. History is strewn with the tales of rejection initially heaped upon the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Herman Melville and George Orwell (famous writers). You can now claim your place among those who served a big “no thanks” to a future literary luminary.
I trust that my missive finds you well. I know the basement where you work must be, at this hour, noisy with the sounds of your colleagues collecting coins for that communal cup of joe. Amid the tittering, I hope my meaning comes through in all its sincerity.
Your job is not an easy one. As the son of a mafia kingpin, I know we can’t change the hand we’re dealt in life. Things happen in this world and we are mere bystanders at the great parade. Deciding to kill the dreams of a fellow human being cannot be as simple as your two-line, seventeen-word form letter would suggest. Deep down, I know it hurts; your sense of humanity feels impaled, even your ankle aches, I’m sure, from each day you’re forced to stomp on the dreams of people whose only sin is the desire to share with the world a little bit of themselves.

What you do takes courage. Not the commendable type, like those going to war possess. But the other kind, that inner strength necessary to turn a deaf ear to the screams going on all around you of folks who’d hoped to tell their little tale and perhaps soak in the tiny bit of attention a few pages of print might bring into their lives. Bravo, I say. Bravo.
Life is not fair for anyone. For me, my writing career has hit a slight obstacle. For the world, a brilliant work of prose remains hidden from the light of day. While you have been put in the position of gatekeeper, Cerberus of the world of letters, a task mistress under whose watch die the dreams of hundreds if not thousands. As my uncle, who heads the auditing department of the Internal Revenue Service, always says, “Life is not fair, and sometimes otherwise good people get punished severely.”

In closing, this world is led by deciders. We need people out front – gifted and special people, such as yourself – showing the way and choosing the path mankind will follow. Heavy is the head that wears this crown. As a board member of the NRA I know the awesome responsibility that comes with power, oversight and a closet full of automatic weapons. I know if you and I were to ever meet, we would see eye to eye on many matters.

Thank you for your time. If you should decide to revisit your decision regarding “Screaming in the Gutter,” I will gladly resubmit it.

Be well.


  1. John, based on this blog and your Salon essay, I am willing to be your fan, if you'll be mine. (There's no such thing as a free lunch.) Until I hear back from you, I'll stick my neck out and follow you on twitter. Maybe you can join my vast group of followers too and push my statistics into double digits.

  2. Never mind. I can't find you on twitter. Really!

  3. LOL, I know this letter is hanging up in an office somewhere with an intern feeling extremely accomplished. Kudos to you Sir, for recognizing the real heroes. Please tell me they responded with a rejection letter for your letter of gratitude! "To Whom it May Concern, Your letter was thoughtful and well-written but not what we are looking for at this time....."