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Getting your story rejected is always a crushing blow to any writer - but there's a sweet spot in the middle, neither too long nor too short, that deadens the pain. If it's too long, then you were either a) really, really close, and you just made the quarterfinals on American Idol before they voted you out of the prizes, or b) they shoved your story into a box somewhere like an abandoned puppy, unloved and untended, for ten goddamned months before they finally decided to glance at it and tell you what they could have told you in five minutes if they'd bothered to treat you like a human being.

Long rejections are bad.

Short rejections are worse. Like, ninety-minute rejections. Hour rejections. Rejections where you're pretty sure they've barely had time to read the story before the bile rose up in their throat and they shoved it back at you, heaving, desperate to get to the bathroom.

A couple of weeks ago, I hit a new record in my writer-group: twenty-nine minutes from submission to rejection. That's right; the rerun of Big Bang Theory I was watching hadn't even finished by the time they sent it packing. Admittedly, it was the editor reading it (so she made the call), and she explained that she had a squick factor about druggie stories, and actually gave me some advice on the pacing that indicated that she had indeed read it all.

Still. Twenty-nine minutes. That stung. You can have a pizza delivered in less time than it took for them to send back a story that had occupied at least a month's worth of my time.

Which is when I thought, "Why not a pizza?"

No writer should have to have a rejection in so short a time and not get something to soften the blow. So I thought, you know, I'm a middle class dude who's had a lot of rejections on his way to his actual sales - I should buy a pizza for anyone who sets the new rejection record.

And so I will. If, as a writer, you can provide proof to me that you have gotten rejected in less than the current record I am aware of, I will have a pizza delivered to your house.

Of course, there are a few provisos, some quid pro quos:

1) This submission must be a fiction submission, to a magazine that pays at least one cent a word upon acceptance. Not that magazines that pay less are necessarily bad, but I'm trying to make sure I'm seeing rejections from magazines I'm likely to have heard of.

2) You must provide proof of this rejection. Usually, the emails with the appropriate timestamps will do. Though it would be easy to fake headers, don't cheat. It's unbecoming. And it spoils the specialness of the World's Quickest Rejection, Spring 2011 Edition, for others. (Assuming you've done this through postal mail, I will want faxed copies of the envelopes, and also to meet your mailman.)

3) This rejection must be quicker than the fastest rejection time currently listed. Hey, I got it done in twenty-nine minutes - but what if someone breaks that nineteen-minute limit? Well, then you now have to have an eighteen-minute rejection. No worries, I'll keep it updated. Right here.

The Current Quickest Pizza-Eligible fiction Rejection is: Twenty-nine minutes.

4) Rejections only count from this day forward. Maybe you did get a .00032 microsecond rejection back in 2009, but they no longer count. Only rejections from 5/27/2011 going forward.

5) Don't cheat. I work as a slush editor. I could easily win a free pizza for a local friend by having him submit at a prearranged time, then rejecting it in five seconds. But that spoils the specialness of it. Think of your fellow author, who will now have a rejection in eight minutes and be sad and desperate and now, because you are a big cheating bastard, will have no pizza.

6) Email all proof to theferrett@theferrett.com with the subject header "I'm Rejected In X Minutes! Can I Have My Free Pizza?" along with a) the number of your local pizza place that both delivers and takes credit cards, b) your address. And when I get around to it, I'll get in touch and schedule it so you don't have pizza delivered when you're not home.

Those are the rules. The current record: twenty-nine minutes.

Go!

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