The Kindest Rejection of All


Just when stories of decapitations, corporate executive malfeasance, doping tennis dads, stolen prosthetic limbs, and firebombed homeless men make you think there is no hope for mankind, something always pops up to restore a bit of mankind’s dignity. Maybe it’s chicken soup for the soul kind of item. A stranger rescues a cat or autistic boy drains six three pointers in four minutes of a high school basketball game. Something that just makes you feel good.

The same type of rejuvenation can happen while we attempt to build a writing career. All aspiring authors know the malevolence of the non-returned self-addressed-stamped-envelope. As of this writing, there are more than thirty instances where I mailed a query to a nonfiction magazine editor, followed all the submission guidelines, and ain’t received squat in return. I was going through my submission log, tallying up all the costs, all the wasted time, and I was right peeved at the situation.

But then, I received an envelope from a magazine. It wasn’t my SASE, but an official stationary envelope from the publication. Usually, that’s good news and signals an acceptance. However, when I ripped open the envelope, I learned they were passing on my idea. But, I want to give credit where credit is due. The managing editor handwrote a nice, personal note to me. And the biggest shock of all? They returned my SASE, untouched, undefiled, still pure and pristine and with postage stamps just ready for use. This kind publication used their own envelope and bought their own postage in order to reject my idea and return that lonely SASE to me.

For those of you who have not yet submitted many queries, you’re probably wondering why I’m making such a big deal out of a mega-publishing-conglomerate footing the bill and saving me about 80 cents worth of postage. But for those of you who have lost SASE after SASE, you realize it’s about respect, human kindness, and just being professional.

And it’s a jolt of kindness that was much appreciated.

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