Occasionally, a rejection will be personal. As I’ve discussed before, such an event is cause for, if not minor celebration, at least a sigh acknowledging that your story was well-received enough to make some comment upon, if not to buy. An editor reading five hundred stories a month doesn’t have time to comment on every one of them, so if he/she commented on yours, that’s progress. The reasons for such rejections are varied, but one of the most valued (and most frustrating) is, “Sorry, we recently bought a story just like yours.”
That did not happen to me.
What did happen was that I sent a story to a certain magazine known for its consistent turnaround–except in cases where the story is sent up to the editor, in which case it can take several weeks longer to get an answer. My story was sent up to the editor where it spent several weeks on his desk(top) before being sent back with no comment. Not a personal, but I knew it was in the running for publication due to the extended length of its stay at that market. I simply didn’t know why it was not purchased. Since I had tried to write that story specifically with that market in mind (a rare occurrence), I would really like to have known why it was rejected, but I was happy to know that my efforts had not gone completely awry.
Then, a few days ago, I read a story from that magazine that was very similar to my own. One of the lines in it was eerily similar to my opening in my own story. This was not a case of plagiarism (not that the similarities rose to that level anyway), but I realized this was why my story had been rejected–they really had recently bought a story about the same subject!
I don’t know if our two stories were under consideration at the same time; if they were, I’m really pleased, because the other author is far better known than I, and if I was even considered competition for that author, that’s cool. Regardless, my story was under serious consideration, and it was (probably) rejected for reasons beyond my control.
It’s not a “personal,” but I’ll count it.