Usually I’m on the receiving end. Rejection letters emails come with the territory. You get used to them. Sort of. The thing about rejection letters is that they always suck. They’re supposed to suck. But they suck for the sender too.

A couple of days ago I went out with a personal essay. Two editors at two different publications wrote me back within hours of each other. Both wanted the essay. I dashed off a quick acceptance to the one I wanted — the one I really hoped would buy the piece back when it was just an idea that hadn’t been put down on paper. Basically, the note said, YES!!! I may have also said thank you a couple of times.

The other note, the one saying thanks but no thanks, took longer to write. Actually, I rewrote that note three times. Then I realized something: there’s no good way to reject someone’s offer. There just isn’t. They want you to say yes and you’re saying no. All the kind words in the dictionary won’t change that fact. It’s one of those instances in life where you’re better off just saying something polite and without substance, because the more you sugarcoat a no, the more likely you are to open up a nasty cavity.

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