Skip to Content

Share

Meakin Armstrong: On Getting Rejected by Guernica

July 4, 2010

I know you killed yourself to write your story. Part of me wants to play Santa and accept everyone’s work. But I don’t. Instead, I reject. Call me the Great Rejector.

____________________________


meakin_armstrong-small.jpgI’ve been rejecting stories in great volume these last few months. I feel bad about rejecting work. I know you killed yourself to write that story. Part of me wants to play Santa and accept everyone’s work. But I don’t. Instead, I reject. Call me the Great Rejector.

Getting rejected is an unfortunate part of the writing process. I too (often, very often) get rejected. The other day I was rejected by a well-known magazine—one you should have heard of if you care about the literary world. Said magazine told me why: they wanted to publish the story—that is, they wanted to except . . . my story has song lyrics in it. I doubt the Pixies would care (do they read lit magazines?) but their lawyer might.

Your story can get rejected by Guernica for any number of reasons: it doesn’t follow our (very specific) guidelines. It’s too similar to something we’ve already run. We don’t have the space, not at that moment. It’s not “international” enough for us. It’s satire (I’m tired of satire about Bush or Obama). It’s flash fiction (which, while personally I write it, Guernica doesn’t publish it in its main fiction section because there are so many venues for it). Or maybe . . . your story just doesn’t appeal to us.

There are so many reasons.

But know this: the average fiction writer we publish has been rejected by us at least twice.

But why don’t we tell you why we’ve rejected your story? Why don’t we tell you more, give you a critique? Because we don’t have the time to deal with that—not with several hundred submissions a month. And our advice wouldn’t be helpful, anyway. It would come down to taste. Ours.

But why don’t we tell you why we’ve rejected your story? Why don’t we tell you more, give you a critique? Because we don’t have the time to deal with that—not with several hundred submissions a month. And our advice wouldn’t be helpful, anyway. It would come down to taste. Ours.

More importantly, when editors have told me why they’ve rejected my fiction, it’s only pissed me off. For example, I’m pissed off about the Pixies thing—you can include song lyrics! I’m pretty sure you can! I hope you can! I don’t like the puffery in most critiques. I hate it. At the lowest point in my writing life, I was a screenwriter subject to script notes from any former accountant with a black-satin shirt and ponytail—so I’m against it. To you, no reason we give to you will be valid. And all of our reasons will seem inane.

I’ve had writers I’ve rejected email me that they’ve been accepted other journals, such as Missouri Review. They write me notes: Hey, I’m in a better magazine than Guernica!

Fine. I’m happy for you.

You don’t need to write to me about it in the same way some ex-lover would: “I’m stronger now. I’ve a better boyfriend.”

There wasn’t anything personal about your rejection. We all have our own taste: it’s as simple as that. Just keep submitting. And keep submitting to Guernica. But read the guidelines, please. If you don’t follow the guidelines, we still read your work—but with a more jaundiced eye. Do you really want our submission readers to have that attitude when so many other people are submitting, too?

Bio: Meakin Armstrong is Guernica’s fiction editor. You can follow him on Twitter, @meakinarmstrong.

G

Readers like you make Guernica possible. Please show your support.

Tagged with:

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterAdd to BufferShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrSubmit to StumbleUpon
Submit to redditShare on App.netShare via email

You might also like

No comments for Meakin Armstrong: On Getting Rejected by Guernica

Leave a comment




Anti-Spam Quiz:

Subscribe without commenting