Last week, I received the best email about how to get a story published (a true story) from one of the writers in our community, Steve Forman. I forwarded it to the rest of our team right away. His story is so good, and his story about how the story became a story made us scream our support for Steve’s writing process.
There’s something important happening here, and it’s about writing with surrender and joy.
We asked Steve if it would be okay to share his email (and his excellent short story) with you — luckily for us, he said yes.
If you’ve ever submitted a story and received a form-letter rejection, you’re going to love this.
Get this. I’ve been submitting content to the national Mensa Bulletin for years (circ. 57,000). I’ve tried photographs, poems, and of course short stories for the annual fiction issue produced each September. No dice.
Over time, I have developed an email correspondence with the Bulletin Editor (Chip), and we have fun, we joke around.
In early August, I received an email from Chip informing me — and hundreds of other hopefuls like me — that my story had NOT been selected for this year’s fiction issue. Unsurprisingly, it was a form letter.
I don’t know what came over me, but in a moment of punch-drunk spontaneity, I fired off a snarky, playful email to Chip, thanking him for rejecting my story — in the form of a form letter.
He wrote back almost immediately, “This is hilarious! May we publish it in the Fiction Issue? It’d be a great Parting Shots feature for our last page.”
Isn’t it funny how things work? Stories I’ve spent weeks (if not months) obsessing over fail to ignite, while a quickly-dashed email that makes someone laugh could be all it takes. And that, students, is our lesson of the day.
Thanks for reading!
Stephen D. Forman is an award-winning writer. Regrettably, not one of his awards is for his writing. He has also been named One of the 20 Most Creative People in Insurance, which is not as made-up as it sounds, though it feels like being honored as One of America’s 20 Quietest Auctioneers. A native Seattleite, Stephen shares a home with his incomparable wife, Sarah, and four furry troublemakers.