On the floor in the cellar, I found an encouraging rejection — part form letter, part handwritten note — I had gotten from an editor at The Sun and then set aside for safekeeping. The letter must have slipped out of one of those cardboard boxes I’ve marked JANE – STUFF and put on a shelf, intending to sort its contents (some day).
So, the rejection stuck in my mind for a day and prompted me to think about all the good writing out there that never finds its place among readers. A lot of writing no doubt gets turned away because it’s not good. Some writing, the kind I’m interested in here, may get turned away because it’s not a so-called good fit for the publication.
These literary misfits need a place, like the Island of Misfit Toys where cool playthings hung out and waited for the day when Santa would take them to the right child. There are cool poems, stories, and memoir that didn’t make it into one of many (low paying, highly competitive, and prestigious) literary journals.
Good yet misfitting submissions need their own Santa Claus. I have an idea for a journal, called Displacement (for the condition of having been displaced, and also the psychological defense mechanism in which emotions or desires are shifted from some original object to another one), that could be it.
To submit one’s work, a writer would send the piece itself along with the rejection, as well as a cover letter arguing for the poem/story/memoir’s power. The case will have to be compelling. Why? This will separate the serious submissions from the scattershot ones.
Writers whose work is accepted for one issue will be appointed editors for the next issue, thereby getting a writing and editing credential in one act. The pay will probably be in the usual free copies and one-year subscription, unless I become independently wealthy — really, a Santa Claus — in which case there will be compensation for published work.
I know, I know, I know: Over time this could become a marginally hip and ironic place in which to publish one’s work, stuff will get rejected (again), and therefore over time writers could become as frustrated with the opacity of the publication criteria of Displacement as they are with other journals’ criteria. For that conundrum, I have no solution to propose.
Or, it could remain merely a Kinkos-copied vanity project, under-funded effort, and a one-hit (or one-issue) wonder.
Either way, such EFFORT on the part of both writer and publisher for a little visibility and a hundred or so readers.