And so I ask you, what’s a fellow to do?

I received a gratifying rejection letter over the weekend, which must sound oxymoronic. It was for “The Death of Superman” and it was from one of the half dozen magazines I’ve sent it to (of course), but I’d lost track of this submission. I can’t even find how I’d submitted it; no sent email in the box, no listing on Submittable, no listing on Duotrope. I’d completely forgotten that I had sent it to this mag and likely would never have remembered at all if I hadn’t received the rejection letter.

But what a rejection letter!

The publication is one of the university literary journals that dot the landscape, and it is put out in conjunction with their MFA program. (Given my publishing history, the submission was a “stretch goal” in managementspeak, which I despise.) They were building a theme issue, I recall, and I think it had to do with works depicting character. “The Death of Superman” is a son’s discoveries about his father’s life after he’d moved out. He learns more about his father’s character by the little indirect evidence the man left behind (at their cabin in the woods, of course). But these discoveries tell at least as much about the son as about the father. So I thought I had a shot at their theme.

But the story was rejected. It was the nature of the rejection that was interesting. They said that they were impressed by my writing (always a nice thing to hear, even if it leaves me feeling like a bridesmaid and not a bride, so to speak). They used the title of my story in the email. And then they encouraged me to send them more writing to consider. It didn’t feel like a stock response though I suppose it could have been.

I have two stories right now that I think I are finished and worth submitting. One is another of the Fathers and Sons stories and the other is “Travel Light,” which is a chapter from my languishing Larger than Life novel in progress. (Lately I’ve been submitting that one around a bit as well. Somehow I’ve found some motivation, or is it self confidence?)

But here’s my problem: the submission period at the magazine is currently closed. I can’t find on their site when the next period opens. I can’t even find how to make a submission there. Do they had a dedicated submission address? An internal mechanism? Is it Submittable? What did I do before? Can I simply respond to their rejection email to show I was encouraged? Can I submit outside of their period given they’ve asked for more from me?

I’m not sure, but I don’t want to lose the momentum. What would you do?

Update: I did the obvious, which only became obvious after I finished my anguished hair splitting above. I wrote to the editors asking what I might do. Duh!

Explore posts in the same categories: Fathers and Sons, short stories


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2 Comments on “oxymoronic”

  1. Teri Says:

    I’m so excited for your nice rejection!

    My very limited experience tells me that most editors will not take anything outside the submission period, even if they’ve asked for more work. Often, especially at university literary journals connected to MFA programs, the editors names change regularly. And if the main editor doesn’t change, their readers of submissions do.

    This is a tough time of year for submissions. Summer. Most journals open in the fall with the new semester.

    Good luck with your story, Paul. It sounds like you’ll find a good home for it somewhere along the way….

  2. Teri Says:

    I’m back because there are a few journals open to summer submissions. You might try the following, all accept online submissions: Missouri Review, Southeast Review, Cincinnati Review, Post Road, Gulf Coast, Narrative Magazine, Black Warrior, Mid American Review, The Collagist, Fence.

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