… I grabbed a New Yorker story off the web (no, it wasn’t by Alice Munro or William Trevor), copied it into a Word document, changed only the title, created a fictitious author identity, and submitted it to a slew of literary journals, all of whom regularly grace the TOC of Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize, O’Henry, etcetera and etcetera. My cover letter simply stated that I am an unpublished writer deeply appreciative of their consideration.
That was it. I sowed the seed, and waited.
As for the result, please sit down and place your Starbucks Venti on a secure surface.
Dear reader, every single one of these journals rejected my poor New Yorker story with the same boilerplate “good luck placing your work elsewhere” auto-text that has put the lid on my own sorry submissions.
Obviously I’m not the only one who has ever wondered how overworked slush readers can stay consistent in the face of all of that precipitation. Author David Cameron’s quasi-scientific study (sample size: two) concludes, quite sensibly I think, that “slush sucks.” Now, I can either be depressed that even previously published stories can’t get published in some markets, or, well, not.
Rejections are inevitable, but I have to say that this makes me feel a bit better about my own.
Chin up, folks, and soldier on. The good news is, it’s not just you.