Irritating Rejection from TLR

I almost never take rejections personally, no matter how much an editor ignores/praises me. Either way, it's a subjective business. The one thing that does piss me off, is when a journal makes me wait a year for nothing. You can send me a form rejection after a week + I'll laugh out loud. You can send me a form rejection after three months + I'll nod. You can send me a form rejection after six months + I won't flinch. You can also send me a personalized rejection at any point between one week + one year + obviously, I won't get angry either. Disappointed + probably mopey, but never angry. But when you make me wait a year for absolutely nothing--The Literary Journal, I'm talking to you--that pisses me off for a bunch of reasons:

1. The New Yorker + Esquire now only make unknown writers wait for 3-6 months before they find out they still need an agent (+ those journals get at least 24,000 fiction submissions a year, probably more)

2. The Paris Review will send you something usually in the same time-frame with fewer submissions + fewer readers

3. If you're a small, non-glossy, non-glitzy, university or MFA-affiliated literary journal + it's taking you a year to send people form rejections, then you're not dealing with your slushpile effectively at all. Either you don't have enough readers or the managing editor isn't doing her/his job of splitting up the manuscripts or the journal has moved locations (in all three cases, just keep the submission manager offline until you're ready to actually read shit).

I've been a fiction reader for literary journals before + I know this. If your editor in chief misplaces manuscripts, oh, say, in an attic for a year, that's another story. But with online submission managers, stories don't become refugees the way they used to.

Okay, in summary:

The glossies are getting to manuscripts faster than a lot of these small literary journals + they have 20 times as many submissions each month + often not that many more readers. Of course they also have unpaid internships + $$. On the flipside, most MFA students have no desire to read from the slushpile after the buzz has worn off + they start to realize that they have stories to workshop in two weeks + a pile of short stories to (not) read. In any case, I don't give a shit: it's still obnoxious to send responses a year after a submission was sent unless that manuscript made the final round but then was rejected, in which case, it's still kinda obnoxious but the good rejection makes the obnoxiousness kinda go away even though it's also really heart-breaking + feels oh so fucking close.

For all the above reasons, even though I've admired a few of the stories in TLR (specifically, Heidi Durrow's piece), I'm gonna peace out of all future TLR submissions. I just don't have another year of my life to waste + I'm not convinced the wait is worth it. At least when the New Yorker makes you wait a long time--it happens--the rejection hurts less because with your next submission, you still get a smaller-than-life chance to do the impossible + publish one of your stories in the motherfucking New Yorker, which would change your writing career forever.

Limbo: Where Fiction Writers Sleep

About the only thing I know right now is that I've been waiting in a state of perpetual limbo for awhile now + it just doesn't go away man, not even after a long nap. By waiting in a state of perpetual limbo, I mean:

1. I'm waiting to hear from Graywolf Press + Algonquin about $67 for My Fave Dictator + BLANK

2. I'm waiting to hear from the Irene Goodman Literary Agency about BLANK

3. I'm waiting to hear from 20 journals I submitted stories to in the past year, some of which I sent a year ago--you know who you are, TLR!

4. I'm waiting to have more free time to start working on The Ninjas of My Greater Self again after getting sidetracked by essays I had (still have to finish) grading, an oral presentation on Joan Didion + kicking it with LB's sister Fia, where I relived all of my touristy moments in LA for the 100th time

5. I'm waiting to have more free time to start sending out new submissions for 2011, after which point, I will begin waiting and living in a state of perpetual limbo all over again

6. I'm waiting to hear from the Macdowell Colony about a summer residency I applied for

7. I'm waiting to hear from the East Asian Studies Center at SC to see if I was awarded a partial/full grant to travel to Tokyo/Osaka this summer to study cosplayer subculture

8. I'll soon be waiting to hear from the English Department at SC to see if I was lucky enough to score one of their endowed fellowships, which would mean no teaching composition next year! Can't you even imagine that?

9. I'm waiting to hear from the universe pretty much all the fucking time, sister

10. I'm waiting for Black Clock's submission window to open again

New Wave of Submissions for Fall 2008

Because talent isn't enough in the world of lit. fiction, I've submitted manuscripts (self-contained novel chapters, short stories and lyrical essays) to the following journals for Fall 2008 (electronically, of course):

McSweeney's, One Story, Nimrod, 9th Letter, Indiana Review, Black Warrior Review Fiction Contest, Meridian, Virginia Quarterly Review, 3rd Coast, Ploughshares, Emerson Review, The Literary Review, Sentence, Quick Fiction, A Public Space, The Kenyon Review, Cimarron Review, AGNI, The Baltimore Review, Witness + The New South.

Should I expect more heartache and agonizingly long wait periods, followed by a storm of rejection letters and a bunch of generic form emails based more on taste than technique? Of course. Do I think my odds are slim to none that most of these journals will pick up something of mine? Yes, I do. Do I still have the same naive hope that this time things will be different? Of course. Please read my Writing Is A Viral Entry if you want to know why. Will I let the staggering odds against me prevent me from slowly developing my fiction career? Absolutely not.

See, this is my attitude: I already know that I'm a gifted fiction writer. I'm just waiting for the rest of publishing world to figure this out. In the meantime, I'm going to keep paying my dues and continue improving as a new voice in fiction until I can finally get editors to see my talent. Yes, it's difficult. But I knew this going into it.