Dear Writer: We are sorry to have sent you such an upbeat rejection. When we said that the protagonist in your story was a lovable loser, we should have emphasized the loserpart. Our rejection was in no way meant to encourage you to submit to us again. Please accept our apologies for misconstruing our intentions.
Dear Writer: We only read stories during the weeks of June 16-30 in even-numbered years, and February 1-15 in odd-numbered years. The only exception to this rule is that we read on alternate Tuesdays every fifth leap year. Please make a note of these guidelines, and kindly refer to them in the future.
Dear Writer: While we found it fascinating that you once drove Alice Munro from JFK to Manhattan for her reading at the 92nd Street Y, that is certainly not the same thing as having her recommend you send us this story. Not the same thing at all.
Dear Writer: It’s not you, it’s us. We’re a bunch of misogynistic alcoholics who would never even consider publishing women’s fiction. Please try us again when we’re sober and sexually fulfilled.
Dear Writer: Necrophilia? No thanks.
Dear Writer: Our deadline for the contest devoted to Catholic, psychopathic, ex-fat girls has passed. Sadly, had you been paying attention to the rules, we might have been able to at least consider your story. No matter. We’ve been inundated with so many stories on the theme that we’ve decided it’s too cliché for a prestigious journal such as ours. We will, therefore, be taking a break from our biennial publishing cycle, absconding with the considerable fortune in contest money, and spending the winter in Bali. Thanks for thinking of us.
Dear Writer: Another editor may well snap up this story. We can’t think of any conceivable reason why that would be, but we wish you luck in finding a home for it.
Dear Writer: Although our journal’s name is Fiction 24/7, we regret to inform you that we are no longer publishing fiction. In fact we have come to believe there is no longer a place in our highly complex world for fiction. Twenty-first century readers no longer want to really truly feel or really truly understand anything. They prefer to be anesthetized by cartoon violence, virtual reality, and Cool Ranch Doritos. Fiction is dead, dead we tell you! And the sooner you get that through your thick head, the happier you will be.
Dear Writer: Please do not send us another “Alice Munro” story. You are, sadly, not Alice Munro. You are not even her third-cousin twice removed.
Dear Writer: Since you are an experimental writer, you need to provide instructions for how to read your work. These instructions should be embedded in the manuscript in such a way that the average Joe could understand what your intentions are while, at the same time, not sacrificing the highly complex structure you have worked out, a structure so original and breathtaking that one minor change, more or less, may send the whole thing spinning out into oblivion. In fact we would not be surprised if that is the trajectory of your career. Many thanks for thinking of us.
Dear Writer: Have you ever considered a career in electronics? We think you should.
Dear Writer: We’re no longer accepting stories that deal with cancer. Note too that we will not consider stories that deal with disease, dementia, divorce, death, dwarfs, delinquents, or doomed love of any kind, animal, vegetable, or mineral. In short, please do not send us anything even remotely connected to the idea of love, since we’ve long since disabused ourselves of that concept. In fact we’ve decided not to publish any story on any subject that deals with the human condition. It is not because we’re Danish. It is rather that there are already way too many stories written on the subject, and it hasn’t helped anyone figure out how to be a better person.
Dear Writer: Although we can see that you substantially changed the beginning of your fine story based on our first set of recommendations, and then altered the ending to provide a masterful echo of the opening based on our second exchange, and then took great care in rethinking the looooong middle per our third, we find that this story no longer interests us. You see, in making all of these changes, the story lacks the freshness, the je ne sais quoi, of the original. Mea culpa, mea culpa for wasting the last two years of your life.
Dear Writer: We regret that, in exchange for us accepting your first fiction, you have felt compelled to kidnap Alice Munro. You must understand that we will not be threatened or intimidated into lowering our publishing standards, even at the expense of the poor dear’s life. It is possible, as you suggest, that such an idea would make a really terrific short story. We recommend that you consider that option during your long and inevitable incarceration.