"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I Cannot Even Properly Speak For Myself

Why do editors say no, anyway? Well, I cannot, of course, speak for All Editors, and I cannot even properly speak for myself, because I reject some pieces from a murky inarticulate intuitive conviction that they’re just not our speed, but there are some general truths to note. We say no because we don’t print that sort of material. We say no because the topic is too far afield. We say no because we have printed eleven pieces of just that sort in the past year alone. We say no because the writing is poor, muddled, shallow, shrill, incoherent, solipsistic, or insane. We say no because we have once before dealt with the writer and still shiver to remember the agony which we swore to high heaven on stacks of squirrel skulls never to experience again come hell or high water. We say no sometimes because we have said yes too much and there are more than twenty pieces in the hopper and none of them will see the light of day for months and the last of the ones waiting may be in the hopper for more than two years, which will lead to wailing and the gnashing of teeth. We say no because if we published it we would be sued by half our advertisers. We say no because we know full well that this is one of the publisher’s two howling bugabears, the other one being restoring American currency to the silver standard. We say no because we are grumpy and have not slept properly and are having dense and complex bladder problems. We say no because our daughters came home yesterday with Mohawk haircuts and boyfriends named Slash. We say no because Britney Spears has sold more records worldwide than Bruce Springsteen. We say no for more reasons than we know.

Why Editors Say No, at the Kenyon Review.
Thanks to Book Ninja.

Let us not forget this shining example.

“We have read your manuscript with boundless delight, and if we were to publish your paper, it would be impossible for us to publish any work of a lower standard. And, as it is unthinkable that in the next thousand years we shall see its equal, we are, to our regret, compelled to return your divine composition and beg you a thousand times to overlook our short sight and timidity.”

1 comment:

BobW said...

Great post, AM. I loved that rejection note. Am still smiling about it. --Bob W