Filtering by Tag: FICTION

Rejections

About two years ago, I wrote a short story called “Spike.” It’s about a male porn star named Tripp Towers who has an erection that won’t go away. I’ve read it at multiple literary readings, and it always goes over very well. Yet, I have been unable to publish it. Here are a sampling of some of those rejections.

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Dear Susannah,

Thank you for sending us "Spikes” [sic]. We appreciate the chance to read it. Unfortunately, this one isn't a match for us. That said, it is strong, interesting piece and I both wish you luck with it and encourage you to submit again.

Thanks again.

Sincerely,
[redacted]

Hi Susannah,

Thanks so much for submitting to [redacted], we really appreciate your taking the time to send us your work. Unfortunately this piece isn't quite right for us, but I hope you'll consider sending us more work in the future, if you'd like to.

Take care,

[redacted]

Dear Susannah,

Thank you for your submission. We are honored that you considered our journal as a potential home for your writing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite fit for us. Best of luck placing this elsewhere. We hope you will continue to support our journal in the future.

Sincerely,

[redacted]

Dear Susannah Breslin

Thank you for sending Spike our way. This one didn’t quite feel like a match for us, so we’re going to pass this time, but we enjoyed the read. I do hope Tripp’s ok!

Best of luck with this

[redacted]

Dear Susannah,
Thank you for sharing "Spike" with me. I enjoyed reading your work. Unfortunately, it is not right for [redacted].

I'd be happy to read more of your writing in the future—even though "Spike" won't work for [redacted], it's still well done.

Best of luck with your writing,

[redacted]

Dear Susannah Breslin:

Thank you for submitting your text. Unfortunately we will not be able to publish your submission in the [redacted] issue of [redacted] at this time. Nevertheless we encourage you to submit texts for future issues of [redacted] and are grateful for your support.

Thank you again for your submission.

Yours,
[redacted]

Dear Susannah Breslin,

Thank you for sending us "Spike" and I apologize for the unconscionably long time spent in responding to a piece you so generously sent our way. Unfortunately it is not a fit for us at this time, but we appreciate you sending it our way.

Thanks again for sharing your work. Best of luck with this.

Sincerely,

[redacted]

Dear Susannah Breslin,

Thank you for sending us your flash fiction story, "Spike". We appreciate the chance to consider it. Unfortunately, we're overwhelmed with submissions at the moment, and we've held onto this one longer than we should have, so we're regretfully declining it to give you a chance to try it elsewhere.

Apologies for the length of time we've held onto this story — this is our loss for not getting to your story more quickly. Best of luck placing your story elsewhere.

Sincerely,
[redacted]

Dear Susannah,

Thank you for sending us "Spike." While we appreciate the chance to read your story, I'm afraid it isn't a good fit for [redacted] this time. Thanks again for trusting us with your work. As writers ourselves, we know it's no small thing.

Sincerely,

[redacted]

Dear Susannah,

Thank you so much for sending "Spike" and letting me read it. Unfortunately, it's not quite right for us, but I would be glad to see more work from you in the future. In the meantime, best of luck in placing "Spike" elsewhere.

Sincerely,
[redacted]

Dear Susannah Breslin,

Thank you for sending us "Spike" for consideration in [redacted]. While we enjoyed reading your work, I’m sorry to say it isn’t a good fit for us at this time. It is clear you are a talented writer, and your story stood out from the group. However, we receive so many submissions that, in the end, we have to reject a lot of excellent pieces.

As writers ourselves, our editors know that the process of sending out work can be a long one. We are grateful that you chose to share your writing with us; your piece was read with great admiration and care. We wish you the best of luck with it, and we hope that you will keep us in mind for future submissions. Please do consider sending us more.

Sincerely,
Editors,
[redacted]

Dear Susannah,

Thank you for your submission of "Spike" to [redacted]. We gave the story careful consideration, and though we are not accepting it for publication, we hope you find a better fit for it elsewhere.

Thanks again for trusting us with your work, and thank you for reading [redacted].

All the best,
Editors
[redacted]

Dear Susannah,

We appreciate the chance to consider "Spike" but regret we were unable to find a place for it in the magazine.

With thanks and best wishes,
[redacted]

Get a copy of my acclaimed story, “The Tumor” … “a masterpiece of short fiction.”

How to Make a Living as a Writer

Over the last year, as the Lawrence Grauman Jr. Post-graduate Fellow at the Investigative Reporting Program at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, I had the opportunity to mentor graduate students in journalism. What question did they ask me most often?

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How do you make a living?

For me, the answer was simple. I wasn’t precious about writing. I do one thing well, and nothing else well: I am a very, very good writer. One could say writing is my superpower. Writing is the tool I use to make money. How I use that tool is up to me. There is no one correct way to use the tool. There is you, and the tool, and how you use the tool is your business.

At this point, I’ve been a writer for over two decades. Which is a pretty long time to make a living at something. Along the way, I’ve been many things, but all of them involve writing. I’ve been an investigative journalist, a copywriter, a TV producer, a branding consultant, a publicist, and a speaker, to name a few.

While I know that I can write and well, I have a sort of shrugging attitude as to how I’ve applied that talent.

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  • In 2010, a communications company hired me to be the voice of Pepto-Bismol on Facebook. If you’re not aware, Pepto on social media is a personality. P&G was unhappy with what this company had done to give Pepto a persona. It was up to me to provide that. So, I did. One of the most popular posts I wrote featured the caption: “I partied so hard my cup fell off.” The photo featured Pepto with its cup next to it.

  • In 2009, I wrote and published a 10,000-word investigation of the Great Recession’s impact on the adult movie industry: “They Shoot Porn Stars, Don’t They?” Slate included it in their "Seven Great Stories About Paying for Sex and Being Paid to Have It,” and Longform called it “unflinching and devastating.” Subsequently, an essay I wrote about the project, "The Numbers On Self-Publishing Long-Form Journalism," was taught in “Media, Politics & Power in the Digital Age” at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the Studio 20 program at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University.

  • In 2008, I was an editor for a Time Warner-owned digital vertical for 18-to-34-year-old women. During that tenure, I wrote nearly 1,400 posts, oversaw a team of freelance contributors, and directed the site’s digital outreach program, helping grow the site’s traffic from startup to 4 million unique visitors and 22 million page views a month.

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So, who am I? A copywriter? An investigative journalist? An editor? Pretending to be Pepto made $100 an hour and earned me thousands of dollars every month. The porn investigation I published “made” no money but was read by thousands and thousands of people and, according to one reader, “changed the way I think about the business of making pornography.” As an editor, I made over $80,000 a year and learned slideshows are the easiest way to maximize page views. I’ve also developed TV shows, consulted on films, and worked as a branding consultant and a publicist. Was one job better than the other? Was one a waste of my time? Was one meaningful and the rest not? Does it matter? To me, it’s all the same. I’m a writer.

Awhile back, I published a digital short story: “The Tumor.” I had it professionally designed and edited. Every month, people buy copies of it on Gumroad, where consumers can pay they want ($1+) for it. It might be a bizarre fiction inspired by reality and populated by a monster, but it’s also unequivocally mine.

To young journalists, I want to say: Do whatever you want—as long as its yours.

Buy my digital short story, “The Tumor” … “a masterpiece of short fiction.”

Just Say No

Hello Susannah Breslin,
Thank you for considering [redacted] as a place for your work. Having read and discussed your piece "[redacted]," our readers regrettably do not feel this submission is right for [redacted] at this time.
I want to wish you the best of luck on placing this elsewhere. Please submit your work to us in the future, we'd like to see more from you. We never consider past submissions in our judgement.

I would also like to state the immense amount of submissions we receive. To get to the number of pieces we ultimately publish, we must read hundreds of submissions. Of these, we often find 100 or so are very, very well done. We would be proud to take any of these and publish them, yet even here, we must whittle this number to less than 40%. Please, never take rejection personally, at this level it becomes very subjective.

Thank you for your time and readership.
In solidarity,
[redacted]
[redacted]

The Reading

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Last weekend, I went to a literary reading in Highland Park. It was held at a curious bookstore with all kinds of curious books and curios, and the event was hosted by a guy I know, although I hadn't seen him in over a dozen years. It ended up being a bit crowded, and the guy I knew who was hosting it didn't recognize me, and I had gone by myself, so I ended up sitting in a chair and just sort of observing, which was fine. The reading started, and it was fun. The first woman sang before she read, in Spanish, which was lovely, and the lights were dim, and there were books all around. As it turned out, one of the readers was named Ben Loory, who has a new collection of short stories out called Tales of Falling and Flying. Loory's writing is itself a bit curious; how can I describe it? Like a child's story on crack? Maybe. In any case, I hadn't read anything by Loory -- TBH, I don't think I'd heard of him before -- and he read a story called "The Writer," which dazzled me. It's moving and sad and beautiful and inspiring. It has lines it it like: "Late that night, the man broke into the writer's room, and stood over his bed in the dark." I was so taken by this fiction that I bought a copy of his book and despite the fact that it made me feel sort of silly, I asked Loory to sign it, which he did, writing: "To Susannah! Amazing! Enjoy!" Then I went home. For the following weekend, I'd made plans to go to another reading. This one more in LA proper. This time going with a friend. This one in a nightclub, which was sort of an odd venue for a literary reading, as it was very cold, and rather dark, and people filled the floor of the club to stare at the stage, and it kind of looked like the literary version of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." When I'd decided to go, I hadn't really registered who was reading, and the day of the event or maybe the day before I noticed that Loory was reading at this reading, too. This struck me as kind of odd. I told my friend about this fact as we ate dinner beforehand. Maybe Loory would think I was some kind of groupie, following him from reading to reading. Regardless, we went, and eventually we were standing in this cold, dark room listening to various people of dubious talent read stories of little interest to me, until, of course, Loory took the stage. Ah, but, see, I'm sorry. I've forgotten part of the story. While my friend and I were standing there -- "I'm scared of literary types," some guy in the crowd sneered, as we waited -- a woman was wandering around the club and handing out large homemade signs with people's names scrawled on them in pen markers of various colors. I watched as she handed a sign to a woman leaning against a column. The sign read "JESSICA." At some point, the woman appeared in front of me, holding a sign, and she asked me, would I hold this sign up while the person who has this name is reading? Sure, I said. About a month previous, a friend of mine told me say yes to everything, and I have been trying to do that. So I said yes, and she handed me the sign, and I looked at the sign, which, to be clear, in case there is any confusion, I didn't make, and the sign said "BEN" in big letters, and someone had gone through the painstaking task of filling the big B with dots, and there were several hearts floating around -- below the B, above the E, under the N -- and in two of the corners there were stickers in the shape of green glitter covered arrows, like shooting stars, like you were going somewhere. Christ, I thought. Now I am really going to look like a groupie. There is that six-one woman in the back of the club holding up the giant handmade sign while Loory reads on the stage. Regardless, a woman came to the stage to read and stated that she couldn't see anyone in the audience, due to the lighting, I presume, so I figured that while I had considered, you know, hiding the sign, or not holding it up, I might as well do it, and Loory would never know. Finally, about halfway through the reading, Loory took the stage. This time, he read a story called "Fernando." It's about a man who forgets his name and what happens to you when you lose your identity and must go to war to get it. It has lines in it like: "Fernando is my name! the angry man screams." When Loory took the stage, I did as I had been instructed: I held the sign in the air. I waved it a little. Then I listened to the story, and I started laughing, quietly, because the entire thing was so great: I was out in LA, I was in this place, I was listening to someone read a story about what it takes to find yourself, even when you are there all the time, hiding within you. After Loory was done, my friend and I consulted one another. Should we stay or should we go? It isn't going to get any better than this, I told her. So we left, and I took the sign with me. I held it while we walked through the bustling dark night of the city. And then I went home.

If at First You Don't Succeed, Try Again, and Fail Again

The MacDowell Colony

Dear Susannah,    

We regret that we are not able to offer you a residency during this coming Summer 2017 period.  Your work was appreciated by the admissions panel members, but the number of excellent applications has grown as has the competition for residencies.

We hope that this news will not discourage you from applying to the Colony again after two years’ time.

In the meantime, we send you our best wishes.

Sincerely,

[redacted]

Executive Director