In the past few months, I’ve been very excited to see that a small publisher I was wanting to submit to was finally accepting submissions, not just for short stories, but eventually for novels, too. It gave me a chance to get last year’s NaNoWriMo novel out there, after a second draft, and to hopefully get my writing showcased, really, at all.
It made my writing suffer this November, which was already awful to begin with, and I know that by tomorrow night at midnight I won’t be any closer to 50k than I was two weeks ago. Part of that might be work.
The point is that I had spent a large chunk of time making sure everything was perfect. Going over and over and over the stories to be certain that I was okay with how it all looked. I sent the short story out to several friends and got a lot of really positive feedback. I have confidence in my writing, and thought, hey, I’m a damn shoe-in.
And then Sunday night happened, and they told me, essentially, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
I’m going to tell you what everyone else has been telling me: Feel like shit. Get upset. You have the right to just hate everything for a second, or dissolve into sobs. It fucking sucks being told no when you had so much confidence and so much hope and so much just built into that one submission.
What I’ve started getting a little tired of hearing, but is no less appreciated, is “don’t give up.”
It’s obvious, to me. If you trip and fall, you don’t just stay down. If someone pushes you, you don’t just keep going down, you stop yourself. The instinctive reaction should be to just get back up and try again.
And honestly, a lot of what they might not have liked or the basis for not choosing you, probably comes down to something that isn’t in your control.
At the end of the day, why I didn’t have my story picked was because they were expecting something else. I wasn’t specific enough about the piece itself and they were hoping for more, in a different direction than the one I went in.
It teaches me, above all else, to be specific. To tell people what they’re getting, fully. It also taught me that I’m still god damned awesome, I still have a fantastic writing style and what I wrote was something well balanced with a rich plot and a lot of development. It was a piece I was proud of, and there’s no shortage of creativity and boundless possibility from where that came from.
Really, like Friend told me, I got an editor who didn’t agree with me. They wanted something else, and that’s okay.
So I got knocked on my ass, and now I’m dusting myself off and trying to find the next avenue. Don’t let one person’s dislike of your story, at any degree, be the reason you stop trying to share your writing with the world. There will always be someone who doesn’t like it, you just need to keep trying until things line up.
For all the hatred I have for the “Think of these famous people who go rejected” stories and phrases, it tends to help. When you are absolutely certain in your writing prowess, and a publisher shrugs you off instead of taking you on, you need to know that there are so many other people, so many incredibly successful writers, who got the same treatment.
If all else fails, you know there’s always self publishing, and as far as I can tell, it’s worked out for a great lot of people.
Here’s to fighting through the rest of the year, and the years to come, to getting to where we want to be.
-The Novice Wordsmith