The following submission is titled “Dear Fiction Editor,” a story in the form of a letter to a fictional fiction editor of a fictional literary journal. I hope to relieve any confusion that the fictional letter might pose since this letter to you is also addressed “Dear Fiction Editor.” You could say that is a part of the joke.
The idea came to me after one of my Kantian-like walks that I take every day at about 3 p.m. I doubt any watchmakers around here can set their watches to my walks, as I am not as strictly punctual as Kant was, and I doubt that there are any watchmakers left in Indiana, let alone anyone who wears watches that must be wound. And also unlike Kant I am no philosopher, though I have read some philosophy here and there, and I am certainly of the belief that as a fiction writer, I should know as much about everything as I can as being a fiction writer allows for me to potentially write about anything, so I’ve filled my head with a multitude of information over the years (some would argue it’s all trivia, and maybe so, as I often pretend that I’m a contestant on Jeopardy while I’m on my Kantian-like walks). Indeed, some of what I have stuffed in my head is philosophy, and perhaps the favorite thing I have stuffed in my head concerning philosophy is something that Kant declared, “It is the greatest problem in philosophy that philosophers have yet to prove an exterior world,” and as far as I’ve been stuffing my head, I’ve still yet to read that philosophers have proven without a doubt that an exterior world actually exists.
But for your purposes and mine, we’ll pretend that this letter to you and you yourself exist and that the following is the real story and that this cover letter is just that, a cover letter.
Now that we have established what is real and what is not real and now that hopefully you will understand and not be confused by the easily confusing nature of this submission (which follows), I can provide just a little information about myself.
My name is Kyle Brown, and I am an unpublished writer from Indiana. I fear that I am unpublished because editors like yourself have been confused as to why they have been receiving a cover letter with no submission, mistaking the submission for just a cover letter, and as I’ve gone over before in this cover letter and am reminding you again that this cover letter is the cover letter and the following cover letter is the submission—I have considered just now changing the font of the submission to differentiate it from the real cover letter, but I imagine that would just be incredibly annoying for you the editor and your literary magazine, and I do recall that Faulkner tried to submit The Sound and the Fury with different colored fonts for the different narrators to ease confusion, and that idea was quickly dismissed by his publisher. And he was Faulkner and not just some unpublished short story writer like myself.
I remember reading an article on the purpose of a cover letter, and it listed its two main functions: to say “Hello!” and to express “I am not crazy.” So in conclusion, “Hello!”
Dear Fiction Editor:
I am submitting a story called “Dear Fiction Editor.” It has two main parts, each written in the form of a letter to the fiction editor. The first letter declares that it is not a part of the submission, but let me assure you that it most certainly is a part of the submission despite how much it rambles on about not being a part of the submission and merely the cover letter, while the second letter spends most of its time explaining that the first letter is also a part of the story/submission. I would like to explain to you, the fiction editor, that this whole document is the submission and that there is no cover letter at all. I understand that including no cover letter at all might not seem as professional, but I have found that including a cover letter for a submission that already includes two cover letters as a story mostly confuses the fiction editors, and I have concluded that this confusion of the fiction editors has lead to rejection after rejection after rejection. That is okay, the rejection has only made me persevere more and more to getting these two cover letters, which is the story, published. Some might argue that over one hundred rejections should tell me that my story of two cover letters is not good enough, has not been crafted well enough, or is just plain bad, but I am steadfast in standing behind my work, and I am confident that my story is a good one, confusing as it may be.
Indeed, I have also been asked by fellow writers why I don’t try to submit something else. Surely I have written more than just this one story, but I tell my fellow writers that I have a grand design, and a part of this grand design is first publishing this story of the two cover letters that contradict each other so that when it is published I can submit for publication my next piece which is a story about how hard it has been to get my first work, a story of two contradictory cover letters, published. I think that you, the dear fiction editor, can understand why I would first like this story published before I publish my next story, which will be about how you finally published this first story, which is again both of these cover letters.
Notes from Guest Reader James Tadd Adcox
I absolutely love this piece. I’ve read it several times now out of pure pleasure, and each time I feel as if I’m standing between two mirrors, watching something recede far into the distance.