A Letter To The Editor Who Stopped Responding To My Emails
Just checking in!!!!
Just wanted to check in and make sure you received my last two emails. I know how crazy things can get in September, especially on Wednesdays, so I totally understand if you just haven’t had a chance to get back to me. Just wanted to make sure I didn’t slip through the cracks!
Quick recap, because, again, I know you must be buried: I pitched you that piece tentatively titled, “Body Shaming, Brexit, And Hillary’s Plan To End Both.” Remember? Based on the two weeks I spent with Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail? I know the headline was a bit much (I was a little loopy after spending 4 days transcribing my in-depth, one-on-one interviews with America’s first female presidential nominee of a major party!).
I was so excited to get your response two days later, expressing interest in the piece: “Send a draft & i will look. We pay $75, FYI. Tnx.” I wrote back attaching the draft in full, complete with sources and transcripts, just in case, plus a courteous thanks for taking the time to read it. I ended it, “Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!” I see now that may have been a little too forward. Perhaps I should have waited 30 minutes before replying, and cut that last part, or at least the exclamation point. God, I probably seemed like such a desperate asshole, but you know what? I don’t care.
Okay, confession: I Googled you. Uh, congrats girl, because you are the FIRST Jill Bakersternbergian to turn up on a Google search. There’s another one who’s an amateur field hockey player, but she’s like seven entries down on the list. Even search engines know what a rockstar you are. I found your Twitter, which is hil-arious. I wanna be your best friend, seriously. BTW, where is that fabulous name from? We should grab a coffee and talk ancestry!
I could hardly sleep that night, waiting for your thoughts. Then I worried about the exclamation point some more. But if I hadn’t put in the exclamation point, how would you have known I really cared?? It’s the same with question marks: If you really mean it, you put two. That’s just how professional writing works. But maybe things have changed. I didn’t get a ton of feedback the last time I had a piece accepted. That was this little personal essay about the time I donated a kidney to my sister, and then when she got out of the hospital, she ran me over. They didn’t even send me notes, just wrote back asking if there was any way I could incorporate miscarriage and/or white privilege into the piece. I did my best to “punch up the trauma” as they asked, but they ended up basically re-writing it anyway, running it under the headline, “I Was Shamed Into Surgery By My White (Supremacist) Sister.”
But you wrote back four days later; My own father doesn’t write me back that fast! “Its good. We’d like to run next week, so hope u don’t mind a quick turnaround. Stand by for notes.”
Jill, whatever happens, I just want to thank you for those kind words. You can’t imagine what it means to me to know that this piece resonated with you so deeply. Thank you.
“Amazing!!! Yes, I can tackle notes whenever you’re ready. Standing by!” And I stood by.
A week passed. “Hi Jill. Just checking in on notes for the Hillary piece. I hope all is well with you!”
Another week. “Hey Jill! Hope your week’s off to a good start! Wanted to see if you had any notes for me yet. Looking forward to your input!”
A third week. “Hey again. Just wondering, are you still planning to run the feature? If so, great! If not, just let me know and I’ll take it elsewhere. I totally understand if it’s not a good fit.
Jill, listen, I hope that didn’t come off as aggressive or threatening in any way. I honestly just wanted to let you know that I understood if you had too much on your plate and my Hillary Clinton exclusive was too big a headache. We’ve all been there, babe, and I’m not saying you’re there, but if you are and/or were there, it’s okay. That’s all I meant to say with this email. And to see if you had any notes yet.
The next morning I woke to a response in my inbox from you, timestamped 2:46am. I opened it, giddy, but the actual body of the message was blank. Immediately, I replied: “Hey Jill! This email came through blank! Not sure what happened, but can you resend when you have a moment? Thank you!”
In any event, it has now been 642 weeks since you told me you’d like to run my “good” feature “next week.” I’ve kept abreast of your Twitter account since that first night (without actually following you — I’m not a total creeper, thank you), so I know you’re alive. I’m glad you enjoyed the Ghostbusters reboot, by the way. I agree, it was totally underrated. It’s a bummer, we could have talked about that had you responded to any of my emails, ever.
God, I’m sorry. I’m lashing out. I know this isn’t personal, of course. It’s just hard when you’ve put your own blood, sweat, and tears into a feature only to have it languish in an editor’s inbox, “good” but unpublished. Perhaps it was too much to hope for your notes (though, I would have turned them around in a flash, Jill. Just know that.). In truth, I would have gladly settled for an expedient rejection. When I think back to that blank email now, I imagine the blankness filled with words like, “Sorry, it’s not for us!” or “I just don’t think readers care about what Hillary Clinton is up to these days.”
Had you just said no, I could have taken it elsewhere. As both the election and Clinton’s presidency have now passed, I’m unlikely to find another outlet looking to publish the feature, at least with this particular angle. That said, if you are still interested, I’d be happy to update copy ASAP. Just lemme know your thoughts! Hope you’re doing well!!
Kelsey Miller is the author of Big Girl, creator of The Anti-Diet Project, and Senior Features Writer at Refinery29. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @mskelseymiller or on Facebook as KelseyMillerWriter.