I came very close to being published in one of the leading literary magazines last week. They have a specific submission window, and last time I entered I was told they liked my story but it wasn't quite right for them. The editor encouraged me to try again in the next submission window, which I duly did (with a different story), and I was told that I'd been placed on the longlist. Sadly, I then received the dreaded 'Dear John' letter that writers know only too well. Very positively though, the editor had given specific reasons why they had decided against my piece. That is such a huge bonus, and allowed me to work on the story and make it much stronger. There's an instinctive reaction to criticism, (let's call it the knee-jerk), and then, when you sit down and consider the criticism properly - especially when it comes from an experienced editor who is reading a LOT of material - there is significant value. I have to admit that I agreed with all of the points made by the editor. She was telling me why my piece just failed at the last hurdle, and what I needed to do to improve it. I've subsequently edited the piece, and I think it is substantially improved.
I know not all editors have the time or patience to follow up with advice on rejected stories (and we don't do it at InkTears because of time constraints), but I would like to thank those that do. You don't know how much a few carefully chosen words from a professional reader/writer can help. Thank you.