Thank you for the opportunity to read your piece, “A Bit of Black Bread.” We regret that we are unable to publish this piece. Due to a high volume of submissions, we further regret that we are unable to send you a personal note.
That said, we were impressed by the quality of your work. We hope that you will consider us in the future. If you do, please review our updated guidelines, which update every three minutes. We are not currently seeking stories about prison yards, shadows cast on apartment complexes, wet lingerie on a clothesline in Havana, afterbirth, or medieval swordplay. Wait, if you have one about medieval swordplay, that could be interesting. Your current submission is not about medieval swordplay, so we have to reject it.
Although at this time we have no use for your writing, the $3.00 reading fee was a big help. The money goes to feeding stray cats that lurk about the office. Fancy Feast isn’t cheap, and we operate on a shoestring. A shoestring! Trust us; no one is making any money around here. No one is reading us, either, so don’t take the rejection too hard. I did see an issue of our journal once at an independent bookshop, nestled between a set of Turkish tea towels and a coffee-table book featuring black and white portraits of Bad Mothers for Mother’s Day. Thank God for artisanal cookbooks, gold-plated bookmarks, and Turkish tea towels. They keep independent bookshops in business, and without them, where would we be? Life is sordid.
Back to the point: rejecting you. We’ve been so fatigued. We think it’s that thing you get from kitty litter — what’s that disease? — toxoplasmosis, that’s it. Anyway, between reading your crap and coping with toxoplasmosis we just don’t have time to respond personally. We know how much that hurts. We know how desperately you want in. Which is funny because we want out.
We are fucking depressed. Please, no more letters to dead people. Also: no more letters to living people. No more letters to people who might be alive or might be dead but you don’t know which. Also: no open letters. That isn’t even a letter — in fact, it’s the opposite of a letter. A letter is private. Just: no correspondence. And no more wind in the bloody fluttering curtains. Well, wait, if the curtains are actually bloody, you might have something.
We hate sending a form letter; you should know that we recognize exceptional vision in your writing.
That means a lot coming from us. We are scholars/poets/novelists in a shabby once-grand office in a descript non-descript New England town where we use Royal Portables to write biographies of Richard Yates. Young writers spilling ash from their cigarettes weep on our well-trod carpets and we use suspenders to hold up our trousers. Some of us have pocket watches and smoke cigars and go sailing. (Not the interns.) We have etchings too. Our skin is actually sepia. So take heart, we are impressive people who are not publishing you.
We so wish we had time to personalize this response, but we get THOUSANDS of submissions a minute. I’ve heard my inbox ping a bazillion times while I write this form letter. I know a bazillion is more than a thousand, but a form letter takes longer than a minute to write. Do you know how hard it is to sit down and write something? It’s really hard.
In conclusion, your writing is total shit. Still, we hope you’ll consider us for your future endeavors. Also, could you send three more dollars even if you don’t send another essay? We can’t promise that we will publish your inspired derivative should-have-stayed-in-your-diary flash-of-genius, but we can promise that sixty cats sleeping on piles of double-spaced manuscripts will get fed.
It was truly a pleasure to read your work. Think of us again. No, really. Maybe next time buy an issue of our quarterly instead of the Turkish tea towels, huh?
We look forward to seeing your work in the future, just not in our publication. You show tremendous promise; we ardently wish we had better news for you. There’s always next time. Don’t give up. Please give up.
Journal of Esteemed Scholars/Poets/Novelists
32 Papyrus Road
Parchment City, New Englandy State, 58647