Dear editor,


I was in a hurry. Canada Post threatened strike action so I sent the story to you – with a witty cover letter – by courier without addressing you by name. Afterwards, dear editor, I bought your magazine in the local bookstore and there was your name on the right hand side of page five, at the top of the sidebar. But why, oh why, dear editor, couldn’t I find it on the magazine’s website?

Canada Post didn’t strike,  but now my story sits on your desk in limbo, dear editor. I feel for the poor posties – the whole bread and roses thing – I get it. Everyone wants “…a sharing of life’s glories.” They’re about to become obsolete those door-to-door donkeys with their hip bruising cross-body saddle bags. And what about the inside postal workers – do they even exist anymore? Maybe it’s just a bunch of robotic arms sifting through the small pile of postcards and bills and ad mail, clawed metal fingers passing them by an electronic eye, scanning the postal codes.

But I was in a rush and your website, beautifully garlanded with admirable writers who no doubt know you personally, did not include your name or the names of any of your staff. I bet a robot would have passed you by knowing there was no point in sending it in without your name. I, however, am only human.

Is it too late to ask for my story back? I’ll send you the self-addressed stamped envelope. I’d rather not wait the requisite three to six months for the rejection and, more importantly, I’d rather not waste your time. I wonder, though, is there an artificial intelligence (AI) coming soon to do the job of editor?

I read that an AI program co-produced a novella that made it through the first round of a literary competition. Believable characters were written by a robot, the kind of characters that get under your big toenail like that dot of dirt in the corner that won’t come out. I bet the robot scoured the World Wide Web for contest judge names before sending in its entry, dear editor. So smart.

We are being chased, dear editor, our feet seemingly anchored with lead shot. Behind us runs a shiny silver being, clearly articulated joints pumping, lubricated limbs silently keeping pace, and soon I fear it will pass us both with its flawlessly arced narrative. (When did story become narrative and when did climax become arc and would an AI writer even quibble about this?) AI has no need for bread and roses, does it? Just a drop of WD40 and a speed-of-light microchip with the brains of Margaret Atwood and Albert Einstein and Alan Turing.

Dear editor, I’m embarrassed. A self-addressed stamped envelope is enclosed. Please return my story and let’s forget this happened.



Perfect rose


27 thoughts on “Dear editor,

  1. exiledprospero August 1, 2016 / 1:46 pm

    Fiction written by a robot. My fear is that it would be wildly popular.

    I saw a film recently and couldn’t help thinking that it was written in the corporate boardroom. All the hot button issues were covered, with the grace and finesse of an abortion. Maybe it was written by a team of blood-minded robots.

    Did you really submit? If so, good for you.


    • Susanne August 1, 2016 / 2:42 pm

      Your fear is my fear, my dear Prospero, but so many books already read as though written by someone with artificial intelligence, don’t you think?

      I did indeed submit a story. It is now making its way to a 4th publication. The 2nd one gave me the nicest rejection so I feel optimistic despite this one misfire.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Cynthia Jobin August 1, 2016 / 3:10 pm

        This is hilarious…I think your speaker/writer has said and done just about every faux pas one can commit when one submits.


      • Cynthia Jobin August 1, 2016 / 4:30 pm

        I did not realize this was in earnest; thought it was tongue in cheek. But such is the perspective of one (myself) who was able to paper a whole room with rejection slips, when I was in my twenties and thirties.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Susanne August 1, 2016 / 5:18 pm

        You’re an inspiration, Cynthia. I’ll be catching up soon.

        Liked by 1 person

      • exiledprospero August 1, 2016 / 3:56 pm

        A ‘nice’ rejection letter is a good sign. It means an editor took the trouble to write something. Saying something not so nice is easier–it’s called saying nothing. So it’s good news. Well done, Sue.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Osyth August 1, 2016 / 2:47 pm

    Once upon a time I was a literary agent. I was told by my bosses over and over that I must not read unsolicited material. I flew in the face of that demand and one or two of my enormous pile of gratuitous scripts and manuscripts became really rather successful on anyone’s richter scale. Don’t EVER give up. Do not. Because for every 10 robots there is one stubborn pig-headed young human just like I was …. bon courage a vous.


    • Susanne August 1, 2016 / 3:46 pm

      Now I’m wowed almost into silence knowing you were a literary agent, Osyth. The blogosphere never ceases to amaze me in its ability to connect humans. Wow. Just wow. And thank you for the courage! I’m getting better at closing my eyes and submitting. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  3. thecontentedcrafter August 1, 2016 / 3:04 pm

    Oh dear! But may your story receive the most benevolent outcome possible …. I hope it falls into the hands of an editor who does not notice her name is missing, so taken is she by the opening sentence of this latest human-made novella ……….


    • Susanne August 1, 2016 / 3:47 pm

      Thank you, Pauline. I have confidence this one might stick – somewhere – on the shoe an unsuspecting editor.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Bruce Goodman August 1, 2016 / 3:44 pm

    In all my life I have never once received a rejection slip – I guess I’ve been lucky. (One day I might have the courage to send something off…) Keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Susanne August 1, 2016 / 3:51 pm

      I hope you do try, Bruce. I’m developing quite a callous callous with every “no thanks”. Soon I’ll be impermeable and imperturbable.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. dawnkinster August 1, 2016 / 5:33 pm

    Best wishes to you and the story. I hope you tell us when it’s accepted so we can all go out and get that magazine/journal/newspaper/book!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. joey August 1, 2016 / 6:53 pm

    Ah, submission and rejection, no tale more familiar for a writer… I hope you get picked up 🙂

    A robot writer? What soulless drivel is it? I want to read it. And I want to hate it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lisa @ cheergerm August 2, 2016 / 6:50 am

    Ha, gave me a giggle although I feel your pain. Heard today about camels that run in camel races that are ridden by ‘robotic riders.’ It’s only a matter of time I suppose!


  8. Manja Mexi Movie August 2, 2016 / 9:19 am

    Here’s to flawless, no time-wasting, self-lubricating climaxes and to us who still caught the good times to be alive in due time.


  9. J.B. Whitmore August 5, 2016 / 8:34 pm

    This is pretty funny. And so true. We writers live in our heads so much. Sending out a story means part of our heads goes public, while the other parts keep generating story, even about the editor whose name you failed to find. Did your really send a paper copy with an SASE??? I didn’t know one could do that anymore. Cheers—


    • Susanne August 6, 2016 / 4:16 pm

      Hi JB, no, I didn’t actually enclose a SASE though to be honest, all the journals I’ve submitted to have asked for paper copies. Maybe because they’re still paper-based publications?

      Liked by 1 person

  10. jbbluesman August 19, 2016 / 4:38 pm

    oh the angst!! My best wishes to you Sue I would love to see you do a happy dance put it up on youtube would u please!!


  11. hilarycustancegreen September 10, 2016 / 2:36 am

    Exquisitely funny and I love the light through the rose. I had a look at the computer novella article and I think the AI programme had a lot of help from its human assistants. More a case of a toddler writing a story with ‘a little’ help from mum and dad.


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