All rejection slips grow on a tree, which is located in the middle of a forest on the 23rd level of hell. When an agent decides to pass on your manuscript, she sends her assistant down to the Underworld to fetch a rejection slip. The assistant rides in a scarlet elevator for three and a half days, down and down and down. Fortunately the elevator comes equipped with a bathroom, a cot and a mini-refrigerator. But the refrigerator doesn’t work.
When the assistant finally reaches the 23rd level of hell, he follows a trail of English muffin breadcrumbs deep into the heart of the forest. He plucks a rejection slip from the tree and runs for his life because a giant red owl guards over the tree and will only give up a rejection slip in exchange for 4253 drops of blood. This is why assistants seem so depressed when you talk to them over the phone. It has nothing to do with their minimum wage salary. It has nothing to do with the hundred grand they still owe on the student loan from Yale. The assistant’s misery doesn’t even have anything to do with his girlfriend dumping him for an indie folk singer who is even poorer than he is. But it has everything to do with getting chased by a giant red owl through the 23rd level of hell.
If the assistant is fortunate enough to make it back to the elevator, he frantically presses the Ground Floor button and prays for the elevator doors to close while the colossal red owl comes screeching closer and closer. When the doors close and the panic subsides, suddenly he notices that the cot is gone. Nor is there a bathroom in the elevator for the three and a half day journey out of hell. However, the mini-refrigerator does work. But he has nothing to put in it.
After the elevator bears him out purgatory and he is back in New York City, he carries the rejection slip into the agent’s office and lays it on her desk. She berates him for not picking up her latte along the way. She then proceeds to fire him. The assistant takes the elevator back down to hell and starts a rock band.