“A Formal Feeling Comes”: It All Depends on the Editor

Click on the cover to read “A Formal Feeling Comes”; it begins on page 16.

Publication in Remington Review

I am pleased to share that my short story, “A Formal Feeling Comes,” has been published in the Fall 2021 issue of Remington Review.

This is the first time a story of mine that was previously published has been published a second time. A big shout-out to Remington Review for their willingness to accept reprints! Click on the cover to read the story; it begins on page 16.

Publication in Mystic Review Review

The story was first published in the Spring/Summer 2001 issue of Mystic River Review, a literary magazine that is now defunct. The reason I submitted the story to be published a second time is that the editor of Mystic Review Review changed both the title and the ending. In addition, the story was incorrectly listed in the magazine as an essay. Back in 2001, I had only a small handful of publishing credits. I agreed to the changes so that the editor would publish the story. Would I agree to those fundamental changes to a story now to get a publishing credit? No, I wouldn’t.

Editor’s ending to “Sea Glass”

Rejection by Coastal Shelf

In another bit of editorial weirdness, when Coastal Shelf rejected “A Formal Feeling Comes,” the feedback I received was that there wasn’t enough emotion in it–even though It’s a story about three generations of women who are emotionally repressed!

Coast Shelf Rejection

Two Children Who Were Not Emotionally Repressed

129 thoughts on ““A Formal Feeling Comes”: It All Depends on the Editor

  1. I always says the process is based in the emotions of the judges or editors… which changes daily. It’s an excellent piece. Strangely, I felt emotion in your grandmother’s hands open on the bed… so there’s that! Congratulations, Liz. ❤

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I definitely agree about the emotions of judges or editors having an impact their decision whether to accept or reject–although in some cases, the piece really isn’t a good fit for that particular journal or the particular issue of the journal. I’m glad you enjoyed the story.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Liz, this is a very interesting story and I can certainly relate to the emotional suppression of the older generations. My own mother has very rarely hugged me and I never remember her telling me she loved me. I think when certain lessons are ingrained in people from a very young age it becomes almost impossible to overcome the messaging, a bit like potty training.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Such a powerful and sad story, Liz. Those generations of emotionally repressed women make me feel so sad, and a little bit frustrated. Congratulations on the republication. The first publication’s labeling your story as an essay–wow!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Merril. My mother’s side of the family was very repressed and overly concerned with what the neighbors would think. Not a good combination. In hindsight, I think the editor was trying to make the story into something it wasn’t.

      Liked by 5 people

  4. Beautiful piece, Liz! My mind immediately went to my mom’s passing. I was with her in her hospice room, holding her hand, and a small group of singers came by and asked if I thought Mom would like them to sing. Mom loved God, and she loved music, and I knew she would. They were in the middle of their second song when I noticed Mom stop breathing. I don’t know if there is a right way for things like this, but this felt right. I invited the singers to Mom’s funeral mass, and they graciously did and sang one of their songs again.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you for reading the story, Pete, and sharing the story of your mother’s passing. I was holding my mother’s hand when she died. Being with my mother on her last day until she died was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but, as you say, it felt right.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Good your story got a second chance Liz, I always wonder why editors think they can change words, even the ending. An artist would be furious if the gallery curator sploshed out some of his painting with a few brush strokes! I spent a term living with my grandparents and learnt a lot more.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. My sincere congratulations, especially for sticking to your own, more appropriate ending. It is so hard when an editor just doesn’t get it and thinks they know better. In fact, I found it thoroughly engaging and sensed the regret of lost opportunities for expression.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for reading the story and letting me know, Derrick. There are some editors who are looking for work as they would have written it. (That stance is a common occurance in college writing workshops.)

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I once had a boss who changed something in ink in every typewritten letter I sent him for signature. He always posted them with the inked alterations. When reiterate first became the buzzword I sent him a letter using iterate instead of repeat. He did what I expected and inserted the re.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh Liz, this story has such a lot of resonance for me. That it my family. For numerous reasons that are too personal to share, I’m very pleased to have read it just now. Thank you for writing something so understatedly emotional and powerful, and something with which I can identify so strongly.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Changing the title I can (kinda) see but the ending? Yikes. I wrote for an education website for a while and they made so many changes to the content of my articles, it was no longer my wisdom, my experience. I quit them.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I don’t blame you. At a certain point, if editors want content as they would have written it, then they should write it themselves. I had a story rejected years ago by an editor who included a link to his own writing as examples of what he was looking for. That was a jaw-dropping moment in the submission/rejection saga.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. What a touching story, Liz. You really grasp at that chasm between the older generation and the younger, that forbidding fortress of formality and privacy that resists being breached, even in the most innocent of ways. This brought me back to my father’s sickbed and conjured up a vision of my sweet mother in your description of softened, not wrinkled skin, and white hair you can peer into. Beautifully done.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I can see why you wanted to publish with the original title and ending. This is much a scenario that I experienced in my maternal family. About 13 months before my grandfather died, he was sent to the hospital and it was expected he would not survive the night (he had an aneurism). Me, my mom, my aunt, and my grandmother just sat in the dim room. No one touched my grandfather. A nurse gave him a massage to help alleviate his pain. Still, no one in the family touched him. It was a creepy experience. I learned later that he was a bit of a tyrant with these women in his life, but as I did not grow up near them, I never witnessed it.

    Anyway, I enjoyed and related to your story.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is such a sad story, Eilene. What happened with my grandmother was that nearly 30 years after she died, her diaries and letters, which had been in boxes shoved in my aunt’s attic came to light. They showed her to be warm and caring–but my mother, my aunt, and my cousins had always spoken of her as cold and judgemental. Oddly enough, I’d never viewed her that way.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Powerful story, Liz; it will stay with me for a while. And I can’t imagine it being told any differently. Publication, like most things in writing, is such a subjective process! Congratulations.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Oh Liz, your stories and poems are always so very poignant. It’s important to write about family, memory, aging, death and what remains of the places people lived, loved and struggled within. Whether they are personal and/or fictive, they have always resonated with me. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. What strikes me is that even at a young age you had a sense that there were questions you just didn’t ask. There is such an underlying sense of awkwardness about illness and death. Well written. Brought up memories of times with my maternal Grandmother.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. How awful they changed the title and the ending of your story to publish. I’m so happy that you could stand on your own right and republish the story with your own title and ending. It all depends on the editor!! The right editor finally came along! Congratulations, Liz!

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Congratulations Liz, the story is haunting and poignant. The first time I had a story published, after being so excited, I discovered that they’d accidentally missed off the last 5 words of the story, which meant you didn’t get the proper sense of the ending – I was quite devastated at the time!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Andrea. I’m so glad you enjoyed the story. The last five words of a story are critical! The first story I had published won a college newspaper contest–and the some of the pages were printed out of order!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Liz, I was very moved by your story. Emotionally repressed is a fitting description of those women, though I have a feeling they would have liked to have said a lot more if only they had the language to express their feelings. I actually felt rather teary when the neither daughter or grand-daughter took their mother/grandmother into the bathroom. Words are not the only way of communicating.
    I’m flummoxed by the earlier change of title and ending of your story by the Mystery River editor. It ruined it IMO. As for not being emotional enough, I can only say that I must have been reading a totally different story! Congratulations, Liz, on the re-print. About time.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. An amazing story that I can relate to well with the passing of my maternal grandma ~ so much I wish I could have talked with her endlessly before she passed. There is always this striving for the present and future that the past gets push aside… until it becomes too late and questions and wishing to share more of her life becomes a memory I think about often. It is great to have this re-published, and in a sense published for the first time with the way you wanted it presented. Fabulous work, Liz.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Congratulations on the reprint! I can definitely relate to the story about accepting changes in order to get a publication. I had an editor try to take a horror story of mine and make the monster in it sound poetic and lovely, but that wasn’t the monster’s character. The narrative surrounding the monster could be–but not the monster. So I didn’t agree to those changes, but I still accepted others that I wished I hadn’t.

    Liked by 3 people

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