Every writer, even the newest to the game, knows that rejection is part of the job. But knowing doesn’t make it is easier to take. You remind yourself that it is the story, and not you, that is getting rejected. But when you birthed that story, crafted it, re-wrote, re-modelled and loved it, then you can certainly find no reason to break out the un-used poppers from New Year’s Eve when you get that ‘sorry but’ email. It always cuts.
The pain, the dejection and the ‘I’m not going to do this to myself anymore’ I’ve managed to get down to about 12 minutes. It used to be as many days, but I’ve been working on it –something for which my partner is eternally grateful. At least I know I am not alone in this.
One of my favourite spec fic writers, Robert J Sawyer, talks about one of his short stories and the tale of its rejection. Lauded as being a standout story, nominated for and coming runner up for the coveted Aurora Award “Lost in the Mail” got rejected 17 times before it was accepted. 17! On my little spreadsheet (and all writers know about these spreadsheets; adding graphs and macros can eat up hours of procrastination time), when my stories hit 10 subs, I usually figure they are dead. I don’t actively kill them off, but they fall off the other spreadsheet which tracks those stories I’m actively re-working and following up.
And there is the lesson.
If you set your cut off at 10, you might miss the success at 17. If you set it at 20 you might miss the success of 42. The thing is, maybe the story does need more work, maybe a little tightening here, a bit more explanation there, and there is nothing wrong with considering and acting on that. But maybe, just maybe you simply haven’t yet found the editor who gets it, but it doesn’t mean you won’t.
So, I’ve just reviewed my short story, I’m still happy with it, so I’ve packaged it up and sent it off into the world again. It might come back, in which case I will pack another lunch for it and send it out again. Or maybe this will be the time it will find a new home. It was only attempt 3 after all, so I shouldn’t put too many expectations on it.
Cross your fingers!