Sunday, 14 February 2010
My First Rejection Letter
'I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat.'
Recently I received my tenth publishing acceptance- a letter in the local newspaper The Oldham Chronicle. I figured that to celebrate this momentous occasion, I should offer up another piece of personal history- my first rejection email from an editor.
Mushaboom was an obscure music publication that ran in Manchester. In summer 2008 they advertised for contributions to their magazine, asking for writing or artwork. Granted, I thought, they are probably looking for music-related work only. But surely it won't hurt to send a few of my own pieces out- a few non-fiction stories about life's trials and tribulations might diversify the magazine. And if they don't like it, they can say 'no thanks.' This was mistake number one.
Well, they did say no thanks, in so many words. I sent five pieces, one after the other. One included an attempt to draw parralels between the challenges of adolescence and the challenges of adulthood, using examples from my own life. It was such a bad piece that I have since deleted it from the internet. Sending five stories at once was mistake number two.
Moral of the story? Research the publication before submitting work.
Here's the editor's reply:
i run a MUSIC fanzine and am looking for ARTICLES. you are sending me diary entries. i think you have missed the point slightly. i have no idea why you have sent these to me, you dont think i'm going to print lengthy, banal accounts of your exploits in chav bars with common as shit women. i also think it was inappropriate of you to send graphic details of your inadequete sex life.
if you have sent me these because you think you are a writer, you have failed to grasp the two basic elements of any writing; genre and target audience. you clearly have no idea what an article is because you sure as hell haven't written any and you clearly haven't checked what publication you are writing for. it's an independent music fanzine, in other words its about music. not explicitly i grant you, it also includes creative writing and articles on literary or arts based themes. this may not be overtly obvious from the myspace but a short email inquiry would have made it so.
if you think your myspace blog constitutes creative writing, you are very sadly mistaken and should stop wasting your time. your talent does not lie in writing, let me tell you this as both literature student and reader. i have no problem with you documenting areas of your life for your own amusement/satisfaction etc but the fact that you are a) putting this stuff on the internet b) sending it to me you want people to read it and.....what? feel sorry for you? like you?? i personally found it amusing to begin with but am now sick of you inundating my bastard inbox with the affairs of your boring life. you sound like the last person on earth i would ever wish to talk to and you need to grow up, get over something that happened when you were 15 and stop letting it define who you are now. high school is tough, its like that for most people, the difference is most people realise it is part of growing up and don't use it in later life to make themselves sound complicated and tortured.
I had a sneaking suspicion that this response might be a little unfair. It was a bit of a wake-up call that people can be uncomfortable with graphic depictions of drug abuse and mind-bendingly bad sexual encounters, but seriously? Did I deserve to be shot down with such ferocity? I put the response on Facebook to gage people's reactions.
anyone who has a story to tell and a fucking good one at that doesnt make them a bad writer.. just because some little editor of mag has a degree doesnt make them a good writer.. maybe she got lucky and shagged the boss..tight skirt n little titties.. im aiming that at americans or southereners... she has no life or she'd be out here with the rest of us drinking .. fucking .. and having a bloody good time but obviously shes stuck at the office and has time to reply a lenghty email that she really doesn't care about.. good night missus editor have a good life and remember to feed ur cats u barmy twit!!!! love u matt xxxx
11 August 2008 at 01:21 ·
You also might notice that this so-called editor wrote her reply with a complete lack of capitalisation. And where the hell did she grow up, if she went to "high school"? It can't be anywhere near Manchester, England- the place where her "music fanzine"'s base of readers allegedly lives.
It can't be denied though, I may have spent too much time in chav bars. And don't get me started on the women...
11 August 2008 at 07:45 ·
Correct me if im wrong here but isnt the point in both music and writing about expressing yourself? Who said to pulp, the streets the killers and the arctic monkeys to stop wasting their lives trying to deal with something that happened to them when they were 15 and stop writing songs about tarts and life experiences. I dont even know what you wrote but from the pretentious "i have a literature degree" response, this person is clearly clueless about how the real world works and where great writing derives. Take no notice fella, i have seen your work and know it bond from a more real and honest place than this "editor" can deal with. Perhaps we should all stop making social comment and stay up until daft o clock in the morning masking ourselves behind internet postings which are totally unnecessary when a simple "dear sir, we regret to inform you that your postings are not what we are looking for" would do. I dont think its Matt who needs to grow up here or am i too bitter and twisted and need to deal with my life without wasting my time commenting on internet postings?!
11 August 2008 at 11:13 ·
Sorry to jump in but have you got her email address? I say you get everyone to inundate her with lyrics to their favourate songs by the above artists with the footnote of 'obviously you are right, no body was interested in what Richard Ashcroft had to say, thats why he has been in the same successful band since he was 18! P.S. Have a look on the cover of NME, and you might spot the reason you dont work for a proper music publication. They are artists, not novelists, and if you actually wish to be successful in the music industry I suggest you rapidly learn the difference before your boss is replaced by someone who actually knows what they are talking about!'
Rant over, back to work now lol! x x
11 August 2008 at 11:33 ·
EMAIL ADDRESS SUPPLIED
Be my guest, but if I get my balls chopped off by a bitter, post-menopausal editor, I may feel slightly worse...
I'm surprised, and highly appreciative, of everyone's responses. I'm also a little bit nervous about sending work to any other publications...
11 August 2008 at 18:11 ·
From what Chris said to me you have nothing to worry about. Not everyone in the industry is a jumped up middle aged nutter! There are unfortunately too many people who work across different types of media tend to be full of self worth and rate themselves so highly that they think their opinion is the only one that is valid. Trust me, by the sounds of things she will last a whole 5 minutes before she is shot down in flames by someone who actually knows what they are talking about, and until then, lets give her a complex and annoy the life out of her! Manners dont cost anything, and by the sounds of things it wont be long until she speaks to the wrong person like that leaving her career to self distruct!
11 August 2008 at 18:26 ·
A few weeks after this I noticed that one of my Facebook friends had booted me out. He was a decent guy, but it turned out he was the boyfriend of said 'editor' and possibly cofounder of the 'publication'. I've never spoken to him since.
Eventually I scraped myself up off the floor after receiving such devastating lambastation and started sending material out to publications again. I have since had work published in Flash Fire 500 (twice), Gemini, Writer's Bloc, BadHap, The Oldham Chronicle (twice), The Manchester Evening News, Ophelion, and I have had a piece accepted into the fall / winter 2011 issue of The Stray Branch (so there'll be a bit of a wait before you see that).
As for 'Mushaboom'- their MySpace now says 'Mushaboom was a cult folk/alternative night that ran for 2 years in Manchester.' So neither the magazine, nor the apparent folk night, are running any more.