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The Creative Writer’s Autoreply


Hi there!

Many thanks for your email! I am currently out-of-the-office pretending to be unavailable in a desperate attempt to feign busyness. I will skim through your missives, even compose responses in my head, but I will not dispatch lest you believe I have nothing better to do.

But don’t let that stop you from writing to me! No one ever sends me a good old-fashioned email anymore, even after I took great pains to set up the professional address contact@mywebsite.com. My fellow writers and well-wishers had warned me that iLoveRyanGosling@freemailserver.com wouldn’t fly if I wanted editors and agents to take me seriously.

‘It’s going swimmingly well. I love writing so much that I want to marry it.’ Illustration by Josh Quick.

Your email arrives at a time when I’m ostensibly busy with my fingers in a number of creative pies. I am grateful—grateful I tell you!—for the honor of watching your emails float into my inbox, even if you are a spambot or a newsletter I subscribed to in 2002.

Now my autoreply has likely fazed you, and you don’t know what to do with yourself. Here are some handy instructions I have lovingly prepared:

If you are a literary journal or a literary agent sending me a rejection, please note that I am not open to rejections right now. My window for rejections will open only in November, when I anticipate I will be knee-deep in the tortuous entrails of NanoWrimo, at which time this OOO will exude a little more sincerity than it does now.

If you are a literary journal sending me an acceptance but no payment, you have my gratitude. I will circulate the link to my story in your journal on all my social media with my sum total of 100 followers so that we may together receive maximum exposure.

If you are a literary journal sending me an acceptance and payment, then you have my eternal gratitude. I would be delighted to sign over my firstborn in a verbose contract that also takes away my ownership of the work in question. I am also available to discuss details of payment at any one of the numbers I’ve shared in my cover letter.

If you are a critique partner awaiting feedback on a story you sent me, you’ll have to wait, because I still have to get over the publication of your story in The Fabulous Literary Review, which has been my favorite, most coveted publication, and you knew that, and no doubt you went and got yourself published right there and nowhere else just to spite me.

If you are a beta reader writing to tell me you found two major plot-holes and that my protagonist is unlikable, I’ll save you your breath and virtual energy. The flaws leaped out at me even before I hit the send button, but I simply couldn’t be bothered to resolve those problems before dispatching it to you ahead of my self-imposed ‘deadline.’

If you are a fan or a blog reader, know that your every comment, email, like, and share gladdens my heart, even if it does little to fatten my purse.

If you are a writer friend checking in to see how my writing’s going, I will have you know that it’s going swimmingly well. I love writing so much that I want to marry it. I’m afraid this burst of creativity will fade away. I want to bottle it up and never allow it to escape.

If you are a non-writer friend asking after my writing, you may as well know now rather than figure it out later from the suicide note—it’s bad.

I trust the above guidelines have given you a sufficient idea of what to expect. Rest assured that I will respond immediately upon return from my self-imposed exile, as I will have already drafted my replies by then.

Gargi Mehra

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Gargi Mehra (Guest Blogger)

Gargi Mehra is a software professional by day, a writer by night and a mother at all times. She writes fiction and humor in an effort to unite the two sides of the brain in cerebral harmony. Her work has appeared recently in numerous literary magazines online and in print. She blogs at https://www.gargimehra.com/ and tweets as @gargimehra.