Wednesday, January 21, 2009

And Their Weather Sucks









I got my rejection email from the New Yorker today, and I was pretty darned excited. To my mind, this opens the floodgates of communication; it's the start of a long and fruitful exchange with the magazine, and in due time, I expect to hear from every one of the editors.

Perhaps the email was a bit terse, but they had a lot on their hands, what with the inauguration, financial chaos, Gitmo, and whatnot. No time to chat about the weather, know what I mean?

The email said my piece had "evident merit." At first, all I saw was the word "merit," and popped the cork on a cheap bottle of pink cava. But midway into my 9 a.m. celebration, it hit me: Strange coupling. I know what evident means, I know the definition of merit -- but isn't all merit pretty much evident? Or is there another rejection letter that claims hidden merit. Or evident crap. Further investigation required.

Google "evident merit," and you'll see there are lots and lots of us out there, flaunting our merit for all the New Yorker staff to see. We're a veritable club of evidently meritful analysts, satirists, poets, novelists. (I hope the others invite me to dinner sometime. I'll bet their booze is good.)

And while the editors of the New Yorker may think they've successfully buried my hopes and dreams under their heaping pile of evident merit, I'm pretty tenacious. My give and their takeback isn't over, no not by a long shot. Besides, I find it really handy these days that, when people ask me what I'm up to, I can honestly say, "Writing a piece for the New Yorker."

42 comments:

  1. and I sent this to Talk of The Town, just to see if I continue to evidence merit.

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  2. Atta girl. "never give up, never surrender" - my mantra from Galaxy Quest. and I bet your piece had more merit than the stuff they do publish. Love the visual.
    RE pea-fowl - they can be exported to Altadena. They are OK, but the droppings are a real nuisence.

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  3. it sounds like a case of adjectivites to me. Don't give up, literary stalking is the highest form of stalking.

    I would be happy if just once was able to come up with a funny caption for those cartoons in the back.

    seshaduc

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  4. Rejection via e-mail? Feh. I say print it and pretend it was hammered out on a Smith & Corona.

    "Evident merit" is just cheesy. Aren't they supposed to be the word mavens?

    Good for you for submitting to them, and I'm glad to hear you'll carry on. My word this time is evingesl, which certainly goes with merit too.

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  5. Tenacity is the key.

    Now that you've gotten that friendly reject out of the way, you can move on to the acceptance.

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  6. I won't waste time saying the obvious, e.g., you're good, "Keep your eye on the main chance," (GBShaw), 'n alla dat! Anyway, if you don't know, that I know that you're good, why have I been spending all these years hanging around you. In the olden days when we had hard copy newspapers, I would say "Flood The Times" and if they don't give you a recurring column, they don't belong in the literary mix. You then sign of with the proverbial "Screw ye 'n the horse on the which you road in, with a double double dangle participle, on on!

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  7. For me rejection notices go something like this... the usual "thanks for applying" followed by the "difficult challenge the panel had in narrowing down the submissions" then some version of how "high the quality of the work was" concluded with the "we regret to inform you". I got enough of these to paper all four walls of my living room (which I may propose some day as the raw material of an installation piece).

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  8. got this from Salon today. Nicely personal for a rejection I thought:

    Hi Karin,

    I'm the Life editor here at Salon. I enjoyed reading this, but it feels too thin for a feature story. Feel free to pitch to us in the future, though.

    sarah

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  9. Woo hoo! Now THAT'S the kind of reject I love to get. Very encouraging!

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  10. the New Yorker may have rejected you (hope that language is not too strong), let it be known that we New York bloggers fully accept you!

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  11. I feel gyped. My old rejection letter from the New Yorker said nothing about evident merit.

    (BTW -- you're way too hip for the New Yorker, Karin!)

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  12. The New Yorker didn't reject Karen. They rejected her piece with "evident merit."

    Now I need to get back to work on a piece for a publication without name-dropping value.

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  13. gee, thanks you guys. Oopsie- doopsie, did I spill cava on your tie Ken? Let me wipe it off with some soda wat...oops, I seem to be all thumbs. Just waiting to hear from the guy who rejected me in the 10th grade. He was a smooth talker, was he. Said my body had evident merit.

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  14. We all know you have evident merit, K.

    Congratulations. Bill Watterson, who did the late lamented "Calvin and Hobbes" strip, is now living in his native Ohio, painting landscapes. When he is finished and it meets his standards, he destroys it. He has said it's because one has to paint 5,000 paintings before you become a good painter, and he doesn't want his "bad" paintings around. He destroys the finished canvas, and starts a new one.

    You have just collected an important rejection slip. Eventual redemption is now that much closer to you.

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  15. Your post is hysterical, Karin. I wonder what your too-thin piece is about. You should write the guy back and say, you can never be too rich or too thin. I wish I could be too thin.

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  16. Submit! SUBMIT! Sub mmmit!!!!!!!

    Is the same as:

    CONFESS! Confess! COn FESSSSSSSSSSS!

    Which is why I have no rejection slips and I remain in a hole in my dining room table covered with spider droppings.

    TOAST! Toast! Toa STTTT!

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  17. In the early '80s, when I was living in the Bay Area, I had a framed rejection letter from Ms. Magazine on the wall of my bedroom.

    Like you, I wasn't upset by the rejection but instead was thrilled to have received the communication on official letterhead with a real signature.

    I had forgotten about it until I saw your post. I don't know where it is.

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  18. Well hell, who needs the rejection of new yawkers when you have the acceptance & love of your hometown locos here, including a few dogs.

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  19. To hell with em . You're too clever for that damn crowd! I was worried you'd get published and I would have to run out and buy that mag. Let's all move on.
    V

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  20. Hey, if I could take everyone's comments with me on these publishing adventures, maybe I'd have something. Y'all rock, everyday.

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  21. I mean, of course, every [space] day. (That always trips me up.)

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  22. My favorite rejection came from Granta for a short story I had submitted. It was simply my manuscript with a giant red X through the first page and a scribbled "please send NO MORE of your work!!!" across the bottom.

    I'm really proud of that one. It, too, was framed on my wall for many years.

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  23. BTW, every space day trips me up, too. You know, it's hard to keep your balance what with zero gravity and all.

    My word is assnow. (Why not later?)

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  24. skinny building? I wasn't brave enough to walk into any of the old Times Square theaters...a lot of strange behavior in there...

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  25. Oh god, I'm late again. My midweeks are...mid space weeks.

    I always thought if they bothered to send a rejection notice at all it was a good sign. If they mention your piece, that's better. And if they mention it has merit, that means they want you to submit something else. Susan, am I right? Otherwise they either ignore you or say something like "we have no use for your work at this time."

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  26. Unlike the rest of you, I am easily cowed by rejection. Why I keep writing is beyond me. Really. I like Laurie's story. I think I would have cried for a month. And I think that not all merit is evident. I think evident merit is high praise for a magazine that simply cannot print all the good work it receives. I love the New Yorker. But your work is consistently better than many of the things I read in the New Yorker. You are the real thing. And I must believer -- or else I'd have to kill myself today -- that evident merit shall someday be rewarded. Even in the New Yorker. Keep us posted.

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  27. Oh, also, the Salon rejection is very nice. Definitely keep pitching them. I had something in Salon a long time ago, and the people were very nice.

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  28. I know Margaret, I keep looking at Laurie's post and it makes me laugh everytime. It rather reminds me of the big fat "F" I got on a Fitzgerald essay years ago.

    Or, since this is the end of this post anyway, I can ramble on: I remember being taken up before a few English profs on the suspicion I had poached something for my essay (The Virtue of Having Vices). When they finally agreed I hadn't, my grade was a B minus.

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  29. What jerks. They just didn't believe you could be so brilliant and didn't want to reward what they believed had been stolen. (Actually, I've done similiar, but in my case those essays had been stolen. I'm sure of it.)

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  30. Brilliant sweetie? I'm sure it wasn't. Probably just had a decent turn of phrase or two. But we'll never know. I was so confused by the whole process I tore it up and threw it away.

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  31. I couldn't have framed the big red X Laurie got, I'd have been too hurt and mad. You listen to Margaret. And go read her Salon piece, it's on her website and it's really good.

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  32. and I like our weather! So there!

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  33. Margaret's Salon essay is brilliant and was included in a book of Salon essays.

    Read it here:
    http://tinyurl.com/apl7h8

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  34. Margaret is a lovely person and a lovely writer. I will read it tonight.

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  35. Margaret, your story tore me apart. Link again, because this is so worth the read:

    reading.http://tinyurl.com/apl7h8

    You are very brave when you tresspass, my friend. Much braver than I.

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  36. I just went and read it again. It's even better the second time.

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  37. You are all very kind. It was one of those stories that I just wrote itself.

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  38. Sure, Margaret. No skill involved. No editing, no build, no natural talent, no nothing. I could tell that when I read it. Both times.

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  39. No Margaret, you're the one doing the best you can. You're kind, you're writing rich, rich stuff. Your dad didn't do the best he could -- he did what came very easy. And the easy? You know, the easy is rarely the best we have to offer.

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  40. Not meaning to be contrary but perhaps Ms. Margaret is being brutally honest. There are times when a story does seem to write itself. Isn't it the best, M? It's like any artwork,sometimes it just comes out with no effort and it's so easy. When I hear that people expect great works to take much much time and effort (I cringe)--sometimes it doesn't (shrug!) You are wonderful Margaret, and so are these lovely blogging sisters around here (so talented each).

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  41. Good for you!

    I'm impressed that you get a rejection email. I got a tiny slip of paper from The Paris Review last summer. Not even a letter.

    Keep submitting!

    Sorry your doggie is going through a hard time.

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