I hate form letters. I hate rejection letters, too. I’ve received my share of both.
I had hoped to send personalized rejection letters to each person who submitted a story to TWO EYES OPEN. That had been my intention. Honestly!
But then life/death intervened and threw me a curve ball. Matthew, my thirty-six- year-old son, died on March 11, after a three-month roller coaster of life and death. And I didn’t know how I’d continue. I still don’t. But I wanted/needed to live up to my commitment to publish this anthology. I wanted/needed to respect those authors who took time to send me stories.
So I had to cut corners. Though I sent form letters, I tried to make them personal. I tried to add each person’s name to the email: “Dear so and so…I’m sorry….”
Yes, some I missed.
I wanted to say why your story didn’t work for this anthology. I wanted to say your story was wonderful. I wanted to say I’d like to publish another anthology later and that, if your story was still available, I’d accept it then. But, as I said, hateful fate intervened, and I couldn’t contemplate a third anthology when I hadn’t even commenced the second. I didn’t want to give false hope to authors, so I simply rejected stories.
I received over a hundred submissions. It was impossible, in my frame of mind, for me to write a personalized email to each submitter.
The two main reasons for rejecting your story:
(1) Your story was too short. The guidelines stated 2,500 to 5,000 words. Don’t submit a 400-word story or a 2,000-word story. I didn’t read them. In that same vein, if your story was 10,000 words, I didn’t read that either.
(2) Your story didn’t fit the theme. It wasn’t quite what I was looking for. The stories had to “speak” to me. They had to fit with the cover image.
I still hope to publish a third anthology, and there are several stories I’ve earmarked for that book. Due to my uncertainty, I didn’t want to leave anyone hanging, waiting for me to respond. I’m an author, too, and hate uncertainty. If and when I’m able to do another, I’ll be contacting these submitters to inquire whether their stories are still available.
For now, I need to follow through with this anthology. And yes, it will be published on or before August 1, 2017, as stated.
My grief overwhelms me still. My son is gone. He had a rare sarcoma on his heart and was given nine months to live, but his mother—me—wasn’t giving up. I combed the Internet, discovered mechanical hearts and a doctor in Montreal, the only one authorized in Canada to perform this procedure, and got that ball in motion. But an artificial heart is only a bridge to a donor heart. Unfortunately, though Matt received a donor heart and was a strong and otherwise healthy individual, his body had been weakened from too many surgeries, and he died three days after the transplant.
He couldn’t hang on.
I will grieve forever for my son. Life goes on. I hope. Somehow. So does my anthology because once I commit, I follow through.
So I apologize I couldn’t spend more time on rejection letters. We writers—and mothers—require thick skins. Take heart that a form rejection letter is better than waiting. Take a breath. Be glad you can breathe, that you can feel your heart throbbing, that you’ll live another day to write another story.