Reasons we might reject your submission

As a service to the writers who are willing to take the great leap of faith and send their work our way, and with a nod to Eyeshot Editor and Friend-of-the-Barrelhouse Lee Klein, who on his site posted actual rejection letters he's sent to submitters, here are some possible reasons we may reject your submission:

--Your story is a thinly disguised roman a clef about your experiences in the Peace Corps/teaching ESL, in which you a) traveled to an African/Asian country, b) struggled to adjust to a new set of cultural conventions and strange foods, then, c) after a long internal monologue while walking down a dusty unpaved road/through a field of flowers/up a mountain to a Buddhist temple/on a windswept beach, d) you had a moment of insight and realized We're All Human Despite Our Surface-Level Differences.

--You are a misunderstood teenaged girl, and you write confessional poetry.

--Your story is a fable or allegory, the lesson of which is one of the following: God Exists, God Does Not Exist, War is Bad, War is Good, We're All Human Despite Our Surface-Level Differences.

--You've used the following word without any apparent irony: wiener. As in: "Jane could resist his masculine wiles no more, so she unzippered his pants and reached for his wiener." Actually, on second thought, we'd love it if you could include that sentence in your story.

--You don't know the difference between your and you're. Or the difference between every day and everyday. Or you sometimes WRITE IN ALL CAPS FOR EMPHASIS. Or you've written your story in purple 18-point Comic Sans font.

--Your story involves overwrought descriptions of the love act, and begins with the words: "I never believed this could happen to me."

--The drama in your story hinges on a surprise twist ending, but has one of the following titles: "The Night My Brother Stabbed Me," "The Dream," "How I Figured Out My Girlfriend Was Actually a Dude"

--Your story is about college-aged kids getting drunk. And nothing else. At the beginning: None of the characters are drunk. At the end: They're very drunk. In between: drinking. We admit this is a fun story to live, but it's not so fun to read. There are literally thousands of stories just begging to be told, but How I Bonged Like One Million Beers and Got So Totally Wasted is not one of them.

--All the black and/or poor characters in your story speak in Mark Twain-style dialect. We're not too easily offended, but this is offensive. Seriously. Cut it out.

--Your story is about how you hate the publishing industry, and literary journals, and how the next editor who rejects your masterwork is going to get a knife to the gut (actually, in lieu of rejecting this one, we may just pretend we never saw it).

--Your story ends when its narrator wakes up to the sound of the alarm/his mother's voice /the phone ringing/his dog licking his face, and realizes: it was all just a dream. A terrible, terrible dream.

PS: Any resemblance to actual, specific Barrelhouse submissions is purely coincidental.

PPS: We really do appreciate all the submissions we get. Seriously. And most of them are very good.

PPPS: If you've recently had a piece rejected by us, and you think maybe we're talking about you, trust us: we're totally talking about people other than you.

PPPPS: We love you.


joe said...

--Your story involves overwrought descriptions of the love act, and begins with the words: "I never believed this could happen to me."

Actually, we may not publish these, but I use them for personal reasons later. So please, keep'em coming anyway.

Matt said...

What if a story were to include all of these?