There should be a special word for the feeling one feels upon getting a “nice rejection.” It’s kind of like a combination of the back-handed compliment (I love that skirt – I barely notice your hammish thighs!) and the it’s-not-you-it’s-me breakup (I want to focus on my career. In fact, I want to focus on anything that isn’t your hammish thighs.). It’s like being on the waiting list when I was looking at colleges (We’d love for you to join us, if a certain number of people we’d love to join us more than you decide to go to better universities).
I say this, of course, because I got a kind rejection in the mail yesterday – this time from Meridian, a mid-level lit magazine. It’s hand-written and signed by the editor, which is good. However, it is a rejection, which is bad. It says, and I quote, “I regret the delayed response. I was trying hard to find a place for this in our magazine, but it hasn’t worked out. Please try us again. Best of luck.”
Granted, these always make you feel better than the dozens and dozens of blank photocopied mass-mailed business-card-sized rejections, which make me picture the magazine’s submissions readers reciting sentences from my piece out loud and laughing at how outrageously bad it is. However, can’t they think of a lamer excuse than, “I couldn’t find a place for it in the magazine”? How about on a series of blank pages? Why not just tell me that you think we’d make better friends and should take a break from one another?
It always makes my heart feel… something confusing: they almost wanted me. They almost did, but they didn’t. Le sigh.
I got it – it’s the same exact feeling when you get picked not exactly last for a team sport in gym class – let’s say basketball. Sure, it feels bad to stand there for so long while the girl with the glasses gets picked, followed by the girl with the skin thing, followed by the girl who wets herself. But then you hear your name right before the very last girl is picked and run to join your team, giving them high-fives one after another, thanking god that they built that wheelchair ramp to the gym so that Margaret could participate.