The SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) is the author's boomerang -- pitch it in the mail, and it comes right back.
Over the years I have come to accept that, when I open the mailbox and find my name and address, written by my own hand, staring back at me, I have been rejected.
Usually, dejectedly, I will remove the envelope from the box, open it, and cringe as I read the cold, impersonal rejection slip. When I'm finished, I send it to live with the other rejection slips in my office and I try not to think about it. Discouragment, I have learned, doesn't offer much to encourage me into action.
A few months ago, however, I learned an important lesson about SASEs: never take the contents for granted.
I went to the mailbox, and groaned when I saw the 9X11 envelope inside. I brought it in the house and headed for the shredder. I knew which submission the envelope had been mailed with. There was no need to even open the envelope and read the rejection.
I started to tear the envelope in two, right down the center, before feeding it to my little friend, Jaws the Junk Mail Shredder. What would it matter? I thought. There was only a rejection slip inside. No need to even look at it.
Still ... curiosity got the best of me. At least I could add the rejection slip to the stack. At least, after all the effort put forth by the USPS to get my SASE back to me, I could open the envelope.
I opened the envelope, pulled out the letter, and began to read.
It was an acceptance letter.
The moral of the story: Count to ten before shredding your SASEs.