Dear Writer, Rejected:
I am hoping that you have some familiarity with rejections from the "shouts and murmurs" column at The New Yorker.
I submitted a piece to them via e-mail on August 6. Barely 5 days later, I received this response:
We're sorry to say that this piece, "Living Your Dreams Backwards," wasn't right for us, despite its evident merit. Thank you for allowing us to consider your work.
The Shouts Dept.
I wondered in the back of my mind whether "evident merit" was just a stock phrase they threw around to keep people from getting upset but didn't think much of it until almost two months later, when I received this e-mail on October 3:
We're sorry to say that this piece wasn't right for us, but thanks very much for letting us consider your work, and we sincerely apologize for the delay in responding.
The Shouts Dept.
I've only e-mailed them once in my life, so the second, unprovoked response was puzzling. And a bit of a kick over something I was already down about, honestly.
Is the "evident merit" phrase something that they use in an "encouraging" rejection letter, or is it just their version of "those pants don't make your ass look big"? In the two months that elapsed, did it lose its merit, or are they only capable of providing either apologies or encouragement but not both?
Anonymous Writer (PMJG)
I'd have to say from my years of rejection experience from said magazine that both the letter and the email seem very much like standard New Yorker form letters to me. Sorry to break the bad news. If you want to send your S & M piece here, I'll post it for discussion. The New Yorker probably wouldn't know funny if funny bit it in the big-looking-ass pants.
Keep the faith, Bro-- W,R.