As an editor with a fledgling journal and a lot of passion for connecting with other writers, I like to send feedback with my responses to submissions, be they rejections or acceptances. I do this for many reasons, the strongest of which is simply that when I receive a response, especially a rejection, I like to know what worked and what didn’t to help me improve for next time. I understand that a lot of journals out there receive so many submissions that a personalize response is just not feasible, and that’s fine, too. But it’s always nice when you get something back and there’s constructive criticism and perspective.
When I receive a rejection that had feedback, it’s usually telling me that there was a lot of merit to the story and my style (yay!) but that there just wasn’t enough. Not enough oomph, not enough to set it apart from other stories or make it really, really exceptional. It’s something I’ve really come to understand about my stories, that I am mostly a storyteller. I like telling stories, and sometimes, those stories aren’t remarkable or groundbreaking, but they’re nice and entertaining and pretty solid. They’re enjoyable, but, when space is limited and there are so many other stories, that’s sometimes just not enough. And that’s okay.
But I did receive an acceptance letter recently that simply stated “I enjoyed this piece very much” and asked if it was still available to be used in a future publication. Something about this very simple approach really struck me, because I felt like it really encapsulated my writing style and the kinds of stories I wrote, and it just made me so pleased that this letter seemed to embody that, in a way. It didn’t delve into technique or plot or character aspects. It just said “I like this. This is nice.” And that, I think, is my writing in a nutshell. I write stories that people like, that are nice. Not great, or earth-shattering, or stupendous. But something that might like your life a little better having read it, even if it doesn’t stick to you like glue.
Simple storytelling has it’s place in the world alongside all the mind-blowing, boundary-breaking epics as well. It’s so refreshing to encounter an editor and a magazine that seems to feel the same way, by simply liking a piece and, for the most part, just leaving it at that.