Previously, we’ve explained how our rejection / acceptance process works a little differently from other lit mags (if you want to check it out, the post is aptly titled “On Why You Hear ‘Yes’ Before You Hear ‘No’”). Giving feedback to the majority of our submitters sets The ALP apart and is a point of pride for our permanent editorial board. Now that we have given feedback on 6 issues of submitters, we have settled into a routine and are capable of handling the ever-growing number of submissions.
Personally, rejections are my favourite part of working on antilang. Other editors have said their favourite part of the job is when they stumble across a gem, or a piece that “connected to the theme on levels I hadn’t even considered” as our guest editor Jesse Holth put it. Another potential favourite aspect is being done with the issue—seeing it released into the world. Still, other editors really enjoy the process of editing back-and-forth with a writer; the camaraderie of making a piece of writing the best it could be. But for me, I love rejections.
Maybe it’s because antilang. is still small or because we encourage emerging writers, but so many of the pieces we receive show a lot of potential and a good dose of heart. I can feel the energy and hope and tenacity oozing from pieces that maybe don’t know where their line breaks belong or what their character’s motivation is, and I think that’s great. Line breaks and characterisation and grammar and imagery and every other element of writing can be taught, but the drive and conviction behind the words—the complete feeling that something is trying to be said or understood or grappled with—that’s not so easy to teach.
I’ve spent many years in university creative writing workshops, both as a student and an instructor, which has shown me both the experiences and results of editorial feedback. This education has been a privilege, and one I know that can be inaccessible to others. Because of this, and because of The ALP’s mandate for accessibility (all issues available online for free, active inclusion of marginalised voices, no reading fees, no previous publications required, simultaneous submissions encouraged), I think of rejections as a way of being able to pass along some of the lessons I’ve learned and discovered about writing. And in that way, I love rejections.