Harren Press, located in town where I was once Managing Editor of its daily newspaper, Olathe, KS, has come up with beautiful idea. Submissions are welcome for an anthology they want to produce with the title Rejected. To submit a story you also have to submit a copy of a rejection notice it has received. How cool is that?
Boy, do I qualify. I've got a file folder of the things. I almost threw them out one time, but I didn't. Who needs the negativity reminders? Now they serve a purpose. Harren was looking for stories under 5,000 words so that helped narrow the field. The perfect one, I hope, popped up.
In the anthology, Harren will black out the publication name and editor's names. Don't know why. It's a letter sent to me and owned by me. I can name names. This one was from Kansas Quarterly, that was published by the English Department at Kansas State University and at the time considered THE literary journal in Kansas. I was a Kansas writer. Boy, did I want to be in its pages.
The rules then were that you weren't supposed to send multiple submissions. I played by the rules. You sent in your manuscript and you waited and waited and maybe six months down the road you'd get a reply. Kansas Quarterly was once voted among the top ten of the non-paying literary magazines in the United States. It ceased publication in 1993.
My rejection is dated July 3, 1984, one day before my 37th birthday. Know what acceptance in his non-paying pages would have meant for me? Validation. Huge validation. Encouragement. Hope. Pride. All those things.
Came close, but no cigar. Lot of positives in the rejection letter, but it still stabbed me in the gut. What the letter shows, too, is the kind of arrogance those sorts of journal editors had at the time. I love this sentence: "We feel this is a publishable story, but it does not require us—by its originality or special qualities—to keep it." Well excuse me. WTF did that mean?
And the last sentence holds out the promise of acceptance, if more submissions are forthcoming. Just sit down and write another of these kinds of stories, as if they were newspaper articles.
I continued to write and I never submitted to them again. They're gone. I'm here and Blue Kansas Sky I hope will find acceptance in Rejected.
If you want to read it now, find it here as a stand alone story, or in this paperback collection of some of my shorter pieces.