Sunday, March 16, 2008

My new approach to rejection letters

I was visiting with Eric Stone just now-discussing Scotch, contracts and the weird hubris of Eliot Spitzer. I'm not exactly sure how the subject of rejection letters came up, but I mentioned how unusual it is to hear a straightforward "no" in Japan. Instead one is told "it would be very difficult" and all parties know it's no no no.

Eric said, "well, in Indonesia, they have a word belum which means 'not yet' but really means 'no.'"

"Aha!" I said. My new one-word rejection letter!

No more "not right for me"
No more losing my mind on Friday nights and writing personalized rejection letters!

No no!
Now it's "belum"

I'm so happy with this brilliant idea I may go read a query letter.


Margaret Yang said...

But sometimes agents say--and mean--"not yet." They say "This isn't right for me but keep me in mind for future projects." Back when I was agent-hunting, I used to like getting those "belum" rejections, because it meant that I didn't completely suck.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

"All of a sudden anti-bellum sounds really nice."-- Bill E. Goat

Eric said...

Well, allowing one's hopes to remain raised is one of the niceties of saying "no" by saying "not yet." It doesn't actually mean it's any less of a "no" though.

Indonesians are nothing, if not polite, except for every so often when they run amok (another Indonesian word.)

Jillian said...


Since my rejection collection has been growing over the past year or so -- from tiny slips of "no" to warm, complimentary emails on partials and fulls -- I am all for the implementation of "belum."

I've been reading this blog for a couple of weeks and am regularly informed and amused. Thank you!