No question about it: rejection sucks. But it's part of the process every writer, even established writers, must go through. You send your work out and eventually you get a response. Sometimes (not often enough, of course), it's an acceptance. I'll always remember opening an unpromisingly thing envelope from North Dakota Quarterly soon after I started sending out my short stories. "We like and will publish Leviathan," the letter began. What a thrill that was! My first acceptance! And there have been, happily, many more like that since then (although increasingly acceptances come by email, it seems, which isn't quite as thrilling but is just as welcome). But way more often that unpromisingly thin envelope contains a rejection, and often the rejection is printed on a tiny slip of paper and has been photocopied so many times it's barely legible. I understand that editors can't respond personally all the time, and when they do it's almost (um, no, not really, not even close) as good as an acceptance. But form rejections, which are often a writer's primary interaction with literary journals, could definitely be improved.
So, I was amused to find David Keeling's blog, A Writing Year. And I found it because I frequently visit Charlottesville Words, written by Elizabeth, who does a terrific job of reporting literary happenings and other news about Charlottesville -- which, after all, isn't far from where I live -- and sometimes about Bloomington, Indiana, where we both, at different times, went to school. Anyway, Elizabeth reported the other day about a horrible rejection letter that one of her writing group friends had received. And Waldo, on the Virginia Quarterly Review Blog, linked to Elizabeth's post and also to David Keeling, because David has been grading rejections he's received, beginning last year when he gave VQR a C+. David hasn't graded all that many rejections (not sure if that's because he doesn't get too many rejections, or what; hey, David, if you need some extras, I've got plenty) but it's a fun idea and he's taking it pretty seriously, it seems to me.
It seems like VQR appreciated the feedback. I hope the other journals do as well.