Re: The Thing You Wrote, Which Was, at First, So Promising

McSweeney’s just rejected this because they get a lot of rejection-themed pieces (unsurprisingly), but I still think it’s funny, so I’m posting it here. Is it possibly based on a real-life letter I got this week?? Who knows!

Anyway, at least I’m submitting stuff, right?



Dear Writer,

First off, let’s just say: wow! We, the editors of this good literary magazine, are writing directly to you to say just how much we liked the thing you sent us. It had emotions. It had a lot of very, very interesting parts. It was actually smart, in places. Obviously, not everything we get sent is, which is why we – though we have a lot of other stuff to do – have chosen to spend part of our day writing this message to you. You should be proud of the thing you made.


It just had so, so many words in it.

Now, we like words. Obviously! Or else our magazine would be some other kind of magazine – a picture magazine, maybe, or a smell magazine. We are not well versed in other kinds of magazines. We are, as we said, word people, and certainly we want our magazine to continue to be made of words.

But that many words?


We started off really liking your piece, like we said in our first paragraph. However, somewhere along the way, we found a bad word. Not an actual swear word – just, you know, a word that made our mouths go, ugh.

Maybe it was too long. Maybe it just hurt our eyes, in addition to our mouths. Who can say why it was wrong? All we can say is that it was.

It made us start looking, and it made us keep looking.

And our suspicions were correct. You sent us a lot of really good words, but also a lot of not good words, and so that is why we are not going to put any of them – good words or bad – in our magazine.

We are sure this must be difficult to hear. If you have questions, we are sorry to say that we cannot answer them. We don’t want to presume to tell you which words did not work for us. We are not presumptuous people. Not like you, writer, who mailed us this half-rotted lettuce-leaf pile of language under the assumption that we would like every single bit of it.

We are wondering – although we, yet again, really don’t want you to write back to us – just where you get off. Where do you get all these words, and the self-esteem to believe that someone, somewhere, might actually like all of them?

This is the twenty-first century, writer. Nobody uses so many words anymore. If you continue to do so, you will use them all up and there will be none left for the rest of us. That’s just how it works.

In conclusion, may your children’s mouths be parched with lack of sentences.


All best,

The Editors


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