Who will Edit the Editors?

I once worked with an editor who said ridiculously nice things about my writing. Nicer than mom could even say! You really have to see it for yourself. I went back and dug up some quotes, only redacting any identifying details. These are the comments for a story I subbed (and was subsequently accepted.)

  • “I’m still psychologically gushing over your story. You’ve ruined me for all other fiction.”
  • “I have read it three times already, it’s that good. I was a philosophy major in college, so the mythos of your story spoke to me. Loved every word. I suppose I shouldn’t be saying that, seeing it isn’t “contract time” yet, but it embued a kind of raw elegance you don’t find much in today’s fiction community.”
  • “It is a STUNNING piece of literature. I am so honored to have it… I hope you submit more in the future. You took me to a place I’d never been before, and that is exciting. I’m a true devotee.”

I was a little uncomfortable with such fulsome words–compliments that effusive come off as sarcastic. But there was no reason to believe they weren’t genuine. A year or two later, the editor contacted me to contribute to a new anthology they were working on.  This resulted in another avalanche of very nice things being said.

  • “No pressure…but if you are interested, I would hold a space for you.” 
  • “I really hope you write something…. It would be a treat to see what you come up with… I love you and your work. I still hold [your story]…as one of my absolute favorites….(if not my top favorite…) That story was luminous. It would make such a wonderful movie. I love that you write so visually.”
  • “Your work, in my opinion, is transcendent. You remind me of a sweeter version of Clive Barker. Just beautiful….”
  • “Your work definitely resonates with me. I love heightened fiction. Elegance in terror is wonderful from my perspective. I just love it when a story is frightening and atmospheric, as well as beautifully written. You’ve always got a home [with me]….”

Those are direct quotes that I share because approximation couldn’t even hint at the actual tone. Thus I wrote a story that was probably pretty on par with the first story that the editor had purchased. Nothing great but hopefully not eye-blindingly bad.

I sent it off and waited.

A few months later, it was rejected and a call for open submissions went out. As far as I know, the anthology never came out. I was paid for the first story but never received the physical copy of the book. Now, I don’t think the editor should have had to buy a story they didn’t like, but it’s a tough world when you’re the next Clive Barker and you still can’t make it through the slush!


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