After a dozen years of fruitlessly sending out short fiction, growing the proverbial pile of rejection letters in my file cabinet, I finally, in the early to mid-1990s, received three acceptance letters. One week after the first one, from a literary quarterly called The New Review, arrived, I received a second letter from the editor announcing that the publication had folded. The second quarterly to accept a story of mine changed its mind during the editing process. The third magazine to smile upon my fictional efforts was American Way, the in-flight magazine of American Airlines. What’s more, they offered me $1,100! Here too, though, there was a catch. They had a house rule that no story could have more than two thousand words. So, purely to satisfy this regulation, I was asked to cut my poor many-times-rewritten-already story by a quarter.
I was still happy to cash the check.