Tag Archives: esquire

good work tho

19 Oct

The first thing you will notice, when holding this rejection letter in your hands, is the quality of paper it’s printed on–good, heavy white bond paper, the kind you use for a resume.

And then, the vivid crimson color of the iconic Esquire logo, soaked into the paper like blood.

Then the blue ink, straight from an editor’s pen, which reads:

good work tho not right for us. good luck placing it.

Re: Revolver

“Revolver” is the name of the story I submitted.

“Though” has been unnecessarily truncated.

Words that should be capitalized, have not been capitalized.

I remember distinctly the day I received this. It was raining, and I was walking to the liquor store to get my breakfast, and there was a letter in the mail from Esquire. The envelope contained weight–a good sign. I stuffed the envelope with its potentially life-altering contents in my jacket pocket and kept it there as I browsed the aisles for the finest vodka not bottled in plastic. Then I returned home with my purchase and ripped open the letter.

Ordinarily I would be thrilled to receive a personalized response (from an editor at Esquire, no less!) with a generous note of encouragement: good work. But on this occasion, all I felt was dread and despair. Because at the end of the day, I did not make the sale. I was 28 years old, probably an alcoholic, I was losing my girlfriend, losing my hair, losing my life, and what I really needed right now was a sale. I had been writing and submitting stories for ten years, and it seemed to me that I should be farther along than this. That I should be giving interviews to bloggers; doing local readings; making a name for myself. And it struck me how silly the whole enterprise was, this whole insufferable pageantry of honors and awards and obscure accolades and publication credits and Twitter followers and Google hits. I was too old to want these things and too old not to have them. I felt, in the end, like the worst kind of fuck-up–one who did not even have the courage, the drive, the integrity to establish himself as a world-class fuck-up.

“Revolver” was eventually published by Suspense Magazine.