The “Dear Writer” Letter

I stayed home sick from work yesterday, but there was a matter of utmost urgency, for which I had to leave the apartment: dropping the Netflix in the mailbox. Otherwise, how would I get the next DVD in time to continue the Freaks and Geeks marathon this weekend?

It was while I was downstairs checking our own mail that I discovered the rejection. I knew this one was coming, but I was just not in the mood for the impersonal “Dear Writer” letdown. In fact, my day was near ruined simply from having touched the letter, and I did not want the thing in our apartment. What would I do with it? Lament my nasty luck, my lack of recognizable talent, my equal lack of usable connections, my naive stupidity for having applied (again) in the first place? Feel sorry for myself? Get more depressed? No good could come of having that letter in the apartment. I’d rather live in my dream world. So I did the smart thing, the protective thing. I decided to get rid of it.

I could have pitched it in the backyard of the building, where the trash cans line our view of the parking garage, where the rats come out at night, but even that was too close. I could see the backyard from our bedroom. No, I had to get rid of the letter in the street.

I went to the corner and tore the envelope into many bits. I scattered the bits in the trash can there. Then I brought the letter itself—generic, but from a glance well written (even their rejections seem well written!)—to another trash can. I was about to tear it up then decided not to. My name wasn’t on it—the letter could have belonged to anyone. In fact, looking at it then, it didn’t even seem to be mine.

I dropped it. I watched it fall, carried slowly on the breeze, to the bottom of the trash can. It landed face-up.

Looking down on it, it was like finding someone else’s unwanted disappointment. I felt sorry for that person. I hoped s/he wouldn’t take this too hard, wouldn’t give up.

That’s how I left it, in the bottom of the trash can, readable by anyone who passed by.

“Dear Writer”—yes, for some minutes, that writer was me.


  1. Yup. I got that letter too. I can’t believe they addressed it “Dear Writer”–couldn’t they have given us the first few seconds of reading that letter with some sort of warm feeling (ie., reading a personally addresed letter? isn’t there a function in Word that would easily allow that?).

    You are brave to have ripped it up and let it become a thing of beauty in the wind. Mine is still on my entryway console, left carelessly. Maybe when I get back home I’ll also rip it up and send it into the wind.

    Anyway…onward. 🙂

  2. Ugh: “Dear Writer.”

    I am so sorry it ended up like that, but I understand not wanting it in the house.

  3. Even putting on my “I understand how busy agents/publishers are” hat, I’ve always resented those Dear Writer rejects, particularly if it follows a painstakingly personalised query letter. :/ Keep moving forward though, it’s already behind you.

  4. I shouldn’t be misleading. The “Dear Writer” letter was for this fellowship, which would have meant chucking it all and moving to the Bay Area to be a writer for two years.

    I would’ve done it, too.

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