marissa_doyle (marissa_doyle) wrote,
marissa_doyle
marissa_doyle

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Maybe they were tougher in those days

Pastrami and rye.  Hepburn and Tracy.  Writers and rejection.  They just go together, don't they?

But I'm not going to launch into the usual essay that writers usually write...how rejection is a part of the writing biz...how every rejection is one step closer to acceptance...how rejection helps develop that elephant hide so necessary to preserving one's sanity in the publishing world...

No, I'm going back to those 19th century fashion prints again.

I've got several from a magazine called The Lady's Magazine (subtitled "Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex Appropriated Solely for their Use and Amusement")  published in London from 1770 to 1837.  Its chief claim to fame today is that it was the first magazine to publish teaser excerpts of upcoming novels.  And like any other magazine it got a lot of its material from its readership, so would-be writers sent in their poems and essays and stories in hopes of being published.

Sounds familiar, right?

But the editors of The Lady's Magazine did not send rejection or acceptance letters.  Oh, no.

They published them.

In every issue there's a section called "Answers to Correspondents" in which they would state the names of pieces submitted to them and sometimes the names (mercifully, just the first) of the authors, usually along with a pithy comment in praise or otherwise of the pieces in question...usually otherwise.

So we have, from the July 1825 edition:

"The lines on Happiness are neither happy in thought nor in expression."
and
"Brittannicus (for in this case we are obliged to follow the pseudography of our correspondent) has sent what he calls the 'War-Song of th Proto-Britons'...we beg leave to affirm that his attempt is not poetical, for there is scarcely a grain of poetry in it; and it is so far from claiming a remuneration, that even if it had been gratuitously offered, we should not have given it a place...."

In June 1825 there's:

"Cornelia's Stanzas on Weaning an Infant are ludicrous and vulgar."

And in December 1827 we have:

"Sylvia writes like one of those female correspondents whom Pope so happily ridicules by his imitation of their manner of writing."
and
"We wish well to Eugenia; we hope that she is a good needle-woman and an industrious housewife; but we would advise her to desist from writing for the public, because we do not think that she will ever excel in it."

Um...wow.  Right there in print for everyone to see--stick to your day job, Eugenia, 'cause you ain't gonna ever be published.  Can you imagine if the New Yorker did this?  "Mr. Updike's recent submission does not appear to be up to his usual standards, being both sloppily executed and jejeune..."  You really had to be brave to submit a piece to The Lady's Magazine, because you had no way of knowing if you'd be accepted, or rejected AND publicly humiliated.

Honestly, it makes those "not right for us" rejections that we get these days seem like veritable love letters, doesn't it?



 

Tags: tangentially history geekish
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