We’ve all been there before. You go out to the mailbox and find a featherweight S.A.S.E. You rip the envelope open to find what appears to be a standard form rejection from Interim Magazine, official literary publication of UNLV. It’s printed on good bone-white card stock. You hold the letter in your hand, finger its sharp corners. It exists. You flip the card over, only to discover an enthusiastic, handscrawled note from the Interim editorial team…
I have about a zillion of these cards from Black Warrior Review. It’s one of my favorite literary journals. I submit there all the time. Besides being based out of the awesomely named Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and rocking an equally awesome bold-Impact-fonted letterhead, and featuring some of the best poetry and fiction produced south of the Mason-Dixon line, they also nominate for the Pushcart Prize and to the Best American series.
I almost threw this rejection away–really, how many of these things can you keep before they become a fire hazard–until I needed a piece of scrap paper to use as impromptu stationery, as is my practice. You can imagine my surprise when on the back of this particular card I found this perfectly-rendered doodle of a pig.
That pig’s god mad personality. I just love his enormous ears and twirly tail; his broad, bold snout and curiously absent eyes. How he tilts his head just slightly, and peers into my soul, as if to say: “Good show, chap. Thank you for your work. I am delicious.”
I am a strong advocate for the Old-World process of mailing stories to editors and receiving physical rejection letters in return. But one drawback of this antiquated system is that you can’t readily capitalize on personalized rejections, when they do come. It’s easy to reply to a thoughtful, emailed rejection with a quick word of thanks and a promise to submit more work in the future. But how to respond to a pig? If I were to, say, tweet at the editors of BWR–
@BlackWarriorRev Thanks for sending the pig along with my #rejection. Dinner at 8?
–there’s a good chance they might not know what the fuck I am talking about, and may even alert the authorities. Oh, I’m sorry, was I not supposed to link to a picture of myself holding a hog’s head in one hand and a bloody chef’s knife in the other? Excuse me, Miss Sensitive.