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Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Wide World of Rejection Letters

After a scant 8 days away I have a response from the editor of the Federation short:

The writing is good, but the story didn't keep his interest. Good luck placing it elsewhere....

On one hand, I admit I agree. I have trouble squeezing voice into short stories. They always sound a little flat to me because 5,000 words is barely enough time to introduce a character let alone several, plus the plot, plus the climax, plus wrap it all up with a satisfying ending. At heart, I'm a novel writer, short stories always leave me with the feeling that I'm gasping for air. I feel claustrophobic writing them. But it's good excercise.

So, yes, the story was flat. Not pancake flat, but flat enough that I can see why someone wasn't riveted by it.

On the other hand, now that I have a rejection in hand, I have to decide if Seventy is something I drop on the floor to feed to the monsters under the bed. Or if I should work on giving it a bit more jazz and sending it to other venues. Or sending it as is to other venues.

I put a lot of work into that short story. Most of December was spent editing, culling, trimming, and tightening. But I have other projects going and I don't know that I want to drop everything just to worry about a short story. No matter how much effort I put into it. I want to drop it like a bad boyfriend and move on.

Which leads me to a minor confession, rejection stings. Even expecting rejection because the chances of my first fiction publication being in an anthology with Elizabeth Bear and Orson Scott Card is so astronomically impossible as to be laughable. Even knowing that, there was that little grain of hope.... maybe, maybe I'm good enough, maybe the editor is just like me, maybe this will really catch someone's eye.

Submitting is like a first date, you do everything to look perfect, and then you just... hope.

And rejection feels like the date walked out in the middle of dinner to chase the blonde bimbo with implants and glazed eyes. I feel like I'm stabbing my fork at the plate, watching him walk away, and wondering if I ought to stab the competition, or the boy. And know that neither option is civilized.

Plain and simple, rejection hurts. Even when you expect it.

Writers have to live on hope. No book would ever be written if the writer didn't hope they could. No query letter would ever go out if an author didn't hope they might find that perfect place for their story. No publisher would run a printing press if they didn't hope someone would buy. Publishing isn't a business of sure things. Certain aspects of the job are very intangible. But, I hope it's worth it in the end.


  1. It is worth it. Hope is a beautiful thing.

    That's why I don't write shorts. Yes, if I get any published its good credit, but it just takes up too long of what little time I have for writing.

  2. Hope is the key!

    Rejection reeks! I've always heard that you're not a real writer until you've been rejected. Well I'm a real writer now. Apparently so are you. Welcome to the club!

  3. Liana, I totally needed to hear this today--thank you!

    It's easy to forget that other writers are going through the same things and having a lot of the same feelings. Best of luck with your submissions, whether you resubmit the short story or move on to your novel :)

  4. Lei, you have a good attitude about this. Rejection does hurt. Immensely. But hope really is the key, and we are all hoping alongside you.

    I thought the story was good. I might have said that it didn't keep my interest, but I didn't feel I could properly say that because the genre isn't something I ever read. Yeah, the date might have walked out on you, but you know there's something better coming up. And don't shove it under the bed, please. Seventy deserves some more hope!

  5. Sorry to hear about rejection, L, and yes, it does sting at first.

    I'd suggest sending the short out a few more places. Sure, tweak it and see what you can do, but you never know, it could strike someone's fancy, and mag markets could be easier than anthos like that which are SO tight and competitive.

    Since you're firmly a novel writer, I really wouldn't worry too much if you decide to shelf the story and move on. (Work on Skippy!)

    You did your best, you had the nerve to submit it in the first place, and that's what counts. :) Have a cookie.

    Good luck at the next places!


  6. I can't decide where to send it... or what I want to change if I decide to tweak.

    But I'm on the final battle scene of Skippy and have a fantastic opening scene (complete with innuendo, ribald comments, and the FMC's idosynchric speech patterns) for the sci-fi novel I'm cleaning up and ending chapters too.

    So life moves on.

    But if anyone has suggestions for 70, my ears are open.

  7. I find sometimes the rejection hurts a little bit more if you expect it, sort of worse because you can't even feel as if you have the right to be shocked and upset about it.

    I don't know much about the markets outside my own genre, but have you thought about writing novellas?

    I can't write a short story to save my life, and I still find novel length projects a bit daunting to edit - even though I love writing them. Novellas (between 15-30k) have really helped me work out a lot of the problems with my writing.

    Keep hoping.

  8. Aww, sweetness. *hugs* It's okay.

    I promise - it does get easier, and the rejections do get less painful.

    For shorts, anyway. Novels, I have no idea... I'll let you know this time next year :D

  9. It's, what, 5k? Will see if I can re-read and will PM you some market ideas and suggestions when my brain functions, m'k?

  10. *hugs Merc*

    You're the best evil author ever!