by R.T. Lawton
A few weeks back, I went to the mailbox with my usual expectations of both hope and dread. The writer's hope of good news, such as a contract or something of interest from the world of writing. But then, there's also the dread of receiving a very unnecessary rejection of one's most excellent creation. Of course, the box could contain nothing more than junk mail and bills. Those, I give to my wife, Kiti.
On this day, nestled in with the utilities bill, an offer of a free steak dinner if we listened to a lecture on how to invest our money in a retirement fund, two health insurance companies who desperately wanted my future business, plus several discount coupons from various stores offering to save me some money, was a single, plain white, #10 business envelope with one of my address labels on it. No return address. The postmark was Seattle.
I quickly recognized this envelope as the SASE I had enclosed with a mini-mystery manuscript submitted to Woman's World Magazine. In the more distant past, such an envelope would contain two pieces of paper. They would either be a form rejection letter and the first page of the rejected manuscript, OR they would be a very nice congratulatory letter of acceptance and a one-page contract stating when this story was to be published and the $500 fee the author was to receive in a few weeks.
HOWEVER, last year in reply to my 24th submission, I had received an e-mail from Johnene Granger, the column editor, stating that she needed an electronic copy of my manuscript because the head editor wanted to be able to look at a mock-up of the proposed magazine issue on screen before he made his final decisions. Thus, an e-mail request meant the column editor liked the story and there was only one more hurdle to pass. A follow-up e-mail would then provide info on acceptance or rejection, and the contract still came in one's SASE.
Advance notice on what to expect in the snail mail. I could live with that, after all that's how they bought my 24th submission in 2011. Problem now was here I stood holding the return envelope on my 25th submission and there had been no advance e-mail from Seattle. CRAP!
My questioning fingertips felt the envelope. Yep, it was the usual two pages thick. Same as always. And, you can't tell a one-page contract from the first page of a rejected manuscript.
Should I pour a Jack and Coke before opening, or just tear into the envelope and pour the drink later? Maybe pry up one corner of the seal and sneak a peek? Nah, be a man and take it on the chin. All or nothing. It's not the end of the world.
Sonofagun, it's a contract and a congratulatory letter of acceptance. A hand-written personal note at the bottom of the letter says, "Thanks for another good one, Johnene Granger."
Moving on. Tune in next time when I go over some personal notes about writing those 700 words or less, $500 mini-mysteries. But right now, you'll have to excuse me, I have to go back to working for The Woman.