I was a bit puzzled to read about The Museum of Broken Relationships, which evidently will be moving its permanent incarnation from Croatia to Los Angeles in the near future. Why do people keep things to remind them of a heartbreaker, and why would other people want to look at them on display? After being dumped without warning, I packed up every single thing my heartbreaker had ever given me and sent them UPS back to him (which was also intensely satisfying as a symbolic last word on the break-up.)
While I was congratulating myself on my superior tactics, I thought of the boxes of rejection letters I've kept since I began submitting to publishers back in 1974. I still take some of those letters out and read them on occasion, and remembering that bucked me off my high horse. That also made me wonder what it would be like to visit a museum of rejected publisher submissions:
The Museum of Writer Rejectopia Announces new Exhibits!
Come join us as we begin our spring season with a whimper, not a bang, and all-new exhibits for other-writer rejection lovers.
The Hall of Terse Commentary
See the finest of examples of quick, insensitive rejections such as "No Thx" scribbled on notepaper, "Not for Us" scrawled on the submission title page, and examples of now-rare checkbox postcards.
Back Gallery of the Battered
Prepare to be horrified as you view the once-pristine manuscript returned trashed by indifferent editors. Speculate on why pages were crumpled (used for trash can basketball, perhaps?); see evidence of editor addiction via countless coffee cup ring stains and a shockingly large wine splash.
Special Exhibit -- Outrageous Revision Requests
Did you know Melville was asked to change the whale from Moby Dick into a man-eating shark? Neither did we, but we can assume Stephen Spielberg got wind of it. Come and find out what other classic writers refused to fiddle with their stories to cater to meddling editor egos . . .
I'd probably have to donate the e-mail from an editor who loved and stayed up all night reading my submission of Night of the Chameleon, and told me that, right before she said there was no way in hell they could publish it. That one really hurt.
What do you think should be in the Museum of Writer Rejectopia? Offer your donations in comments.