A reply to an unsolicited article or essay submission can take a number of forms: maddening silence, an unsigned boilerplate response, a standard-issue rejection that nevertheless has a name attached, or a personal reply (with its own range, from no to qualified yes to revision suggestions to acceptance).
But know this: A response from an actual human being is—especially for beginning writers and freelancers—an opportunity. It is an entry point.
If you receive a rejection, particularly an encouraging one, from a real live person with decision-making power, send something else to her, preferably as soon as possible before she forgets your name.
This is how relationships with editors begin. From relationships can come assignments, work, and—however you may define it—success.
Every piece of writing is a draft. It may be a first draft or a third or a thirteenth. It may be published, but it’s still a draft—it just happens to be one that made it into print. If it hadn’t, admit it, you might still be working on it.
Students often issue a warning that the essay they’re handing out to the workshop is “just” a draft. As if that would make me—or anyone else—read it differently. More forgivingly, I suppose they imagine. But good feedback has nothing to do with forgiveness. We’re all imperfect, we’re all learning, and, assuming we’re paying attention, we’re all getting better.
So I stand corrected. One person should indeed be more forgiving. You. Toward yourself