Friday, January 3, 2014

Entry # 193 - "Oddly Enough"

Photo Credit - Jan Bowman - October 2013
Last week's snail mail brought a mystery envelope from somewhere in my past. Oddly enough - two short-short pieces of fiction that I wrote many years ago were returned to me in my own SASE from some unknown, unnamed, and unidentified journal. Yes, I always included extra postage knowing that the post office whimsically raises postage, but it still required another 32 cents in postage which the sender had so kindly added. Years ago I had removed this submission from my records. I assumed the stories had fallen into a black hole.

I am left with a mystery. I did notice that both had been printed on the old dot-matrix printer that I had more than fourteen years and two printers ago. There was no note of any kind and the packet was mailed from Michigan, but the postmark was too smudged to read.

Both of those pieces were eventually expanded into longer work, polished and published years ago. Why did anyone bother to return them?

I am imagining various scenarios for this submission. Perhaps someone died and whoever cleaned up the boxes of old submissions sent to this person's beloved, but defunct journal, decided to finish unfinished business for this person as a final act of love. This is my favorite explanation.

Or perhaps someone lost it and found it while doing a clean up and decided that returning it was the honorable thing to do, but they were too embarrassed to say more. Or perhaps this journal was run by "the slowskees"(that turtle couple often seen in careful contemplation in an internet commercial on TV) and this was a timely response (for them) of "no thanks." And this theory works (for me) because turtles wouldn't write a heartfelt reply to me. They can't write.

I share this story for all of the writers out there who send out work. Anything can happen to it. Sometimes a rejection letter is a good thing. At least you know what happened to the work.
Coming Soon - Mermaids & Other Stories
About Jan Bowman 
Winner of the 2011 Roanoke Review Fiction Award, Jan's stories have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, Best American Short Stories, and a Pen/O’Henry award.  Glimmer Train named a recent story as Honorable Mention in the November 2012 Short Story Awards for New Writers. A recent story was a finalist for the 2013 Broad River Review RASH Award for Fiction, another story was a 2013 finalist in the Phoebe Fiction Contest; another was a 2012 finalist in the “So To Speak” Fiction Contest.  Jan’s fiction has appeared in numerous publications including, Roanoke Review, Big Muddy, The Broadkill Review, Third Wednesday, Minimus, Buffalo Spree (97), Folio, The Potomac Review, Musings, Potato Eyes and others.   She is working on two collections of short stories while shopping for a publisher for a completed story collection, Mermaids & Other Stories.  She has nonfiction publications in Trajectory and Pen-in-Hand. She writes a weekly blog of “Reflections” on the writing life and posts regular interviews with writers and publishers.   Learn more at: or  visit blog: Facebook:

1 comment:

  1. I cleaned out my files today. AND I was shocked to find my original submission letter from early 1995 and follow up notes of emails through 1997 and attempts to contact the publication to say that the stories had been revised and published. Had no response. How odd!! There must be a story there.