Rejection letters, correspondence, and miscellanea from the otherwise empty annals of the Journal of Universal Rejection.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011


More correspondence with author Sonia Lyris.  The earlier conversation may be found here.

Hi Sonia,

Our correspondence went up on the blog, so now it is your turn to be famous.

As to the dialog, I have faced these fancy deconstructionist (or whatever) arguments from others.  If it is in quotes it is dialog.  Except in the case of those crazy fishmongers that put "FRESH" on their signs (with the quotation marks!--we don't buy fish there), or similar circumstances of which your talking monkey is not one.

I did not bother to ask my wife about this, but I'm sure she agrees.

Best regards,

Dear Dr. Emmons:
I have been so disconsolate since your last letter I have barely known how to reply. We differ, you and I, on the subtlest of tenuous post-modern deconstructionist arguments. Thus I am forced to ask: have I earned this rejection?  No, I must answer; I have not!
So hard and long have I worked for this rejection only to find now it tastes no more of success than failure. It is to me as a glass of water that has sat beside a wine bottle for five minutes is to an alcoholic. How can I show my face to my fellow writers who receive handfuls of rejections a month, all pure and unsullied by questions of reality and "quotes"?  (I have just now spoken that word, so this is correct usage.)
Simply put: I cannot!
While you may understand your rejection to be true and right, good sir, I am left wanting.
And so, please find attached another story submission which I send in the hopes that this time, perhaps, I will have truly earned the rejection I crave. I trust you will give it all the consideration I have by now surely earned. 

YOS, etc.,
Sonia Lyris
P.S. Here is my story. It is called "A Story." I have quoted it because that's what I call it.   

Once upon a time there was someone who innocently acted with the best of intentions, or perhaps out of ignorance, we can't be sure, and things went wrong. He or she tried to fix this but it only got worse. With a mighty struggle, help from an unexpected source, and attendant personal growth, he or she finally managed to fix the problem in a delightful way that leaves us feeling good.  The end.

Dear Sonia,

Thank you for submitting another story.  It is always a delight to hear from you, and see the multisplendent amalgams of words you arrange.  This submission was no different.  But we did find a problem with it.  It is too descriptive.  Our readership doesn't have time for all the details, and other aids to imagination that you have included.  Please do a rewrite that lacks any adjectives and adverbs, and avoids long words.  And we'd like to see a fishmonger named Mollie in the story.

Best regards,

Dear Dr. Emmons:

It is likewise always a pleasure to nearly hit my target.  I dare say I'm getting quite good at it.

Please find (below; really, it's not that hard to find) my rewrite as per your thoughtful and insightful rewrite suggestions.  As is so often the case, I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your feedback.

YOS, etc.

The Story:

Once upon a time there was a fishmonger named Mollie. Some stuff with fish happened. It was intense. It's over now. The end.

Dear Sonia,

According to my dictionary, "intense" is an adjective.  I thought I asked for none of those.  Also your story is too short, and not enough happens.  I want more details.  Put me into Mollie's life.  I want to hear the wet slap of fish as Mollie plops it on her display counter.  I want to feel the sparge of the fish's last exhalation, as its eyes go glassy.  I want to smell--no, to taste!--the delicate parfum of sea salt and kelp gracing Mollie's sun roughened neck.  But pretend I am a blind man; I don't want to see anything.

Best regards,
p.s. We correspond so frequently, perhaps you could address me more informally.  (E.g., use a comma.)

p.p.s.  We have received many short stories of late.  (I also consider blank documents and research articles short stories.)  Perhaps you would like to join our Editorial Board?

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