You are a nice lady, Rosemary Ahern! You are a decent human being!
I do not say this because you liken my work to Flannery O'Connor's fiction, but because at any moment your letter could have gone snarky to justify your decision to pass. You could have easily turned on the writer's humble abilities to make yourself feel better about the sorry state of publishing, but you did not. Your letter said this: "As discussed, my reasons for passing have mostly to do with a fear of creating a kind of modest track record that tends to accompany a first short story collection. When it comes time to publish the brilliant first novel, those figures are lurking in booksellers' computers to frustrate the best efforts of all of us. The same old story, I'm afraid. That said, I'm deeply impressed with Writer, Rejected's range as a writer....[BLAH, BLAH, BLAH]...(I thought about Flannery O'Connor more than once while reading these stories....)"
(This leads me to worry that you may some day actually meet a true modern-day Flannery O'Connor and pass her right by, which I hope now you will not ever do, no matter what detrimental effect you think the industry might have on the good woman's career. Please, for God's sake, just publish her!)
But my point here is really just that a rejection can be a fun and flattering affair. My point is that kind-hearted rejections are all too rare. I therefore award you, Rosemary Ahern, the Golden Apple of Kindness from Writer, Rejected. (Otherwise known as GAK! ) For what it's worth. Which admittedly (since, like you, many have also chosen not to publish me) isn't much.