Thanks for your submission to the magazine. I’m honored that you thought to give us the chance to read it. It doesn’t quite fit here, though, thus this note, to say, as gently and courteously as possible, no. We decline, we demur, we retreat from the idea of acceptance. In some cases we are terribly tempted to say No, or NO, or NOOOO, or Please don’t ever send us such self-absorbed self-indulgent solipsistic lugubrious muck ever again, or Please desist from writing anything ever again, in fact please just walk away from your computer or hand-held device at this time and do not ever again try to make another sentence, because your attempt to do so offends the universe, and retards evolution, and is the very reason some people sometimes sneer at the artsy-fartsy aspect of literature and art generally, as well they sometimes should, when presented with ineffable blubbering twaddle like this that appears to be composed only for the greater glory of the author, or as a vehicle for the rage or lunacy of the author, or for greed, or as a way of staring lovingly at yourself in a mirror, or because you think you are witty when you most clearly and inarguably are not. A piece like yours, we are sometimes tempted to write, is not elevating or edifying to the reader, but merely performance, or comment, or confession, or rant, or the product of insomnia or inebriation or incoherence, or lecture, or sermon, or homily, or browbeating, or elusive goop, and is the very reason why so much of what is sold culturally as art is nothing at all like art. Art is a way to reach for someone else and say Don’t you feel this way too? Are we not brothers and sisters? Is this not a painful miracle of a world? Is it not bruisingly beautiful even in the hard parts somehow? Not the hard parts exactly but the way that people reach for each other in the hard parts? And the way everything is holy and amazing beyond explanation or definition or understanding, which is what art is for, to try to hint at the amazing of it all? You know what I mean. That’s what writing should be. A deft graceful way of reaching, or using words to hint at what cannot be said in words. And if it doesn’t at least inform the reader, if it’s only capering and nattering about the author, then it stinks. Do you see what I mean? Yes? So you will understand that if I say, as I have, that your piece does not quite fit our magazine, that may mean that it’s a terrific piece, but just slightly off the concerns and dreams and ambitions we have for our magazine, or maybe it’s a very good professional piece of work, but that’s all it is, it’s not reaching as much as it is preaching, or it may mean that it’s an awfully promising piece, but just not promising enough for us to accept, or it may mean that there’s a nugget of quality in your piece that’s tempting to try to excavate and hone and polish but in our experienced judgement such an effort would take too long and would probably entail whining and blubbering and shrieking and preening by the offended author, or it may mean that your piece is the most excruciatingly bad piece of selfish glop we have ever been forced to read, and now we have to go wash our hands and brush our teeth and go take a walk in the sunshine to try to get clean again after slogging through such a narcissistic pile of muddle. If we are lucky, on our walk in the sunshine, we may be granted the gift of an osprey wheeling and whistling overhead, or a small child chasing after a brilliant blue damselfly, or vice versa, or two nuns giggling on a bench, or a tiny old woman doing tai chi on a bright red pebbled mat by a blue river, or a man in a dashiki bowing grandly to a woman in a hijab, and we will be filled with some other kind of light, which is what writing is for. Thanks again for giving us a chance to consider your work.
Brian Doyle is the editor of the University of Portland’s Portland Magazine. He is the author of many books, among them the novels Mink River, Martin Marten, and Chicago.