To the Editor at Needle In The Hay,
After several months of contributing stories to your website, which I assumed was a welcoming and friendly environment, I was very disappointed to receive a rejection letter. It was in response to the story I submitted to your Burn Your Editor award. The story in question is To the Editor at Needle In The Hay by Charlie Novak. Imagine my confusion at being rejected by a website, that as far as I’m aware, does not send rejection letters. Was it a new policy? A joke? Was my story so horrendous that it warranted an official rejection just so that its awfulness was even more abundantly clear?
In the rejection letter you made specific reference to a number of sections from my submission. You claimed that the threats that I directed at you and those close to you were, such as my promise to disembowel you with a blunt knife while your family watched, were “deeply disturbing and far too personal”. According to you, references to my surveillance of your home and memorisation of your daily routine (home, café, work, park, home) were “inappropriate”. I disagree and would argue that it is your criticisms that are inappropriate.
Let us take a step back and have a look at what the award asks for. It asks for us to write a “letter in reply to a rejection” and specifies that, as this is a fiction competition, the letter should be written from the perspective of a character. A clip featuring comedian Dylan Moran as Bernard Black was given as an example. Within this example Black writes a violent, threatening letter to the editor who rejected his manuscript. With this criteria and example in mind, I wrote my fictional response to a fictional rejection. The story I wrote was not by me, but by a character that I created for the purposes of this competition. The Charlie Novak who wrote the letter is as fictional as Bernard Black. Any references to you personally were not included because I possess “the qualities of a stalker or serial killer” but to make the letter more authentic.
I must say that I am disappointed. I thought that you would have been mature enough to comprehend that the story was a work of fiction, and obviously not to be taken seriously. In fact, I am more than disappointed – I am offended that you would think that what I wrote was even the least bit true. I assumed that it was perfectly clear that my submission was intended to be humorous, and in my own opinion and the opinion of those who helped me draft it, it was.
I did not appreciate that you called my style “pretentious” and found my self-referential humour to be “poorly conveyed”. Likening my work to Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” was not a maladroit attempt at self-aggrandisement, but, I must repeat, humour. Your assertion that meta-comedy died with the release of Scream 4 is debatable, especially in light of my story.
As you may have guessed, when I received this unexpected rejection I was surprised, and not in a good way. However, upon a moment of reflection I realised that the rejection was, of course, an error. There was no way that the meaning of my story could have been so tremendously misconstrued. It was all a big misunderstanding.
Thus, I am writing a response to inform you of your mistake. Now that I have notified you of the problem there are two things that I expect in return. When I check the short list in the morning, I expect to see that my story has been added to it. I also expect to receive an apology for the “feedback” you provided me with concerning my story. It was unwarranted, not to mention exceptionally rude. I would like to be clear that once you have made these amendments that there will be no hard feelings. No one is perfect, and I will be extremely grateful for the correction.
Nevertheless, in the event that this was not a grievous error, there are a few things that I would like to make clear. Firstly, I will not stop writing because of you. I quite frankly, do not care if you like my stories or not. I will continue bombarding you with them until you, and the world, accept the superior quality of my work. Secondly, I will not be apologising for my submission. If you are feeling “shaken” and “insulted” do not blame me, but rather your inability to recognise a joke. My “insults” to your intelligence are not “unnecessary low blows”, but a necessary plot device.
I hope that this letter finds you well and that this ludicrous misunderstanding will not impede future friendship.