Ahh, bios. The most odious three sentences every author has to write. Here's where I live, here's where I've been published, and here is a writing-related personal fact. Dry, professional, and occasionally braggy, bios are widely considered by my writing community to be a necessary evil. (Case in point, I'm a paragraph into this post and I literally just got a text from a writer friend being like "ugh k this is my bio, it's fine, right?")
The good news is, writing a bio is simple, almost easier than falling into a Netflix hole. Once you have one, it basically never has to change. I personally go onto submittable, open a previous submission, then copy and paste ad infinitum.
But sometimes it makes sense to change it up. Maybe you have a new book coming out and want to mention that. Maybe you've moved cities and can no longer say you are a X-based writer. Or maybe the idea of seeing those same few sentences one more time makes you contemplate jumping into the ocean face first in the middle of January.
For me it was the ocean thing, so after two years of cloning my bio, I changed it to include some new publications along with my website at the beginning of the month. I've sent out a few submissions with this updated bio, and it felt pretty good.
My third rejection of 2018 comes to me from a publishing press in the States. You may recall me saying in my first ever entry that literary establishments in the US tend to respond more quickly, and this exemplifies the sentiment, because my piece was received, read, and rejected within a week of me sending it.
Okay, A+ for efficiency. That is an unreasonably amazing response time. Literary establishments of all stripes are notoriously understaffed and underfunded, and long response times are 100% warranted. To get a reply within a week is unprecedented. Seriously. I've been submitting writing for almost 6 years, and this has never happened before.
It turns out this rejection was exceptional in more ways than one.
Rejection letters are usually pretty stock. Dear writer thank you for sending to our journal not a good fit doesn't mean it's not good please submit again, so long and thanks for all the fish. And I'll tell you what, I think it's a good system. It's professional and comforting and doesn't take up a lot of an editor's already limited time. This rejection, rejection number 3, was moving along predictably until it suddenly wasn't.
At the end of the letter was a notice informing me that the contents of the e-mail were for my eyes only, and sharing it without written permission would be considered copyright infringement.
It is entirely possible that this anonymous publishing press happens to be the only organization I've ever encountered that routinely sends this out as a regular part of their communications. Absolutely. It is also possible that sending my website in my bio led editors to this blog and they were like, "nope, no content for you there, quippy."
So, okay. There is no way editors have time to visit the websites of every writer who has a bio related crisis and tacks theirs on at the end. (I assume that's all of us at some point.) But on the other hand, that's a real unusual thing to include. Non-standard. Aberrant. Weird coincidence, is what I'm saying.
I'm left feeling concerned that there are people who view this series as me griping about not being accepted, and I hope that this literary journal (which will remain unnamed to honour what I think is their desire for anonymity,) doesn't think that they are on some weird, literary hit list. To me the whole point of this exercise is about celebrating the rejections, and being like "look! I'm doing the work! And that's fantastic." And I hope throughout these posts, I am also doing my part to celebrate the dedicated individuals, often volunteers, who are giving their time and energy to make contemporary writing available.
No lit journal owes you an acceptance. And I know from having friends who edit them that sometimes they get the same kind of disdainful responses from people they've rejected that women get from guys they reject on tinder:
Charming. This to say, just in case it isn't clear, the editors who reject me are every bit as awesome and dedicated as the editors who accept me. The editors who reject you are every bit as awesome and dedicated as the writers who accept you. Thank you, anonymous publishing house, for taking the time to read my work. It is appreciated. I hope you feel okay about my desire to demonstrate that this process is a whole lot of losing, and a whole lot of worth it.
Here's a picture lil highland calf. See you next rejection!
- E.B. Kirsh