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

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Pigs, Apples, Death, Sex, and Gender

Dear Ms. or Mr. or Indeterminate or My-Gender-is-None-of-Your-Business M            :

(We are nothing if not sensitive to matters of gender, whether chosen, naturally apportioned or divinely imposed -- long and baroque have been our editorial board meetings wherein we have argued at length and breadth the merits and pitfalls of altering the English language to better serve our readership in this regard; do not for a moment believe we are anything but utterly respectful of your situation, whatever it may be, and that in no way do we even begin to suspect we can understand your feelings on the matter, or indeed lack of feelings; we make no assumptions whatsoever.)

Thank you for your insightful and passionate story, "                     ."  As the Journal's short story editor, I see (and reject) many stories and I have to admit that it is a rare (pleasure) to come across one that includes pigs, apples, death, sex, gender- and species- identity questions and also pink nail polish. Rare indeed.

Alas, rare is not enough.

No, indeed--many are the rare stories that lay across our desks, begging to be given a starring role (or indeed any role at all) and as you may suspect precious few are actually cast. Rare, odd and even frightening stories have no more advantage with us than the most predictable, dull, and tedious stories. (Indeed, a recent submission frightened our editorial staff so much that we ended up in a heated discussion about who was going to reject it under what pseudonym and what favors would be owed said person. Five triple-shot caramel lattes, as I recall.)

But back to your story.

A story such as yours is destined for many trips around the globe, collecting many diverse rejections. It is, in many ways, a sort of Rorschach test, allowing each reader to project onto it and see in it what is foremost in their consciousness.

And what do I see?  Bluntly put, I see a story that would disturb our delicate readership in their notions of identity and gender. Such disturbance might result in them hesitating, pens poised over their Journal subscription renewal forms. I'm sure you understand that in hard economic times like these a journal such as ours -- exclusive and award-winning though it may be -- can scarce afford such risks.

Perhaps you should view your story as an ambassador to the world, and re-title it "reject me if you're uncomfortable with your gender choices" to see if you get better results. Just a thought. Best wishes
on your story's upcoming travels.

Do think think of us next time you write a short story that includes pink nail polish.

Sonia Lyris, Associate Editor

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