For the most part, rejection doesn’t really bother me. I understand that editors can’t accept everything that comes across their desk. Sometimes the idea just isn’t right for the publication or their budget is spent or the piece needs more work. I understand that. I really do.
Most of my writing over the past ten years or so has been article writing. It’s not at all uncommon to get a direct “no thanks” or more likely no response at all. I’m okay with that. I brush it off and move on to the next idea. No harm, no foul.
Recently, I have begun submitting my fiction to publishers. There have been times on and off that I have sent out a story or two, but I was never invested in the outcome. Fiction was more of a past time for my own personal enjoyment so I didn’t care if I got published or not.
Now, it’s different and I’m discovering that rejection kinda sucks. The direct rejection isn’t so bad. I’d prefer getting a “this sucks” or no response over a nice rejection. The nice rejections kill me. Those oh so kind “you were this close. Better luck next time.” I would rather have a rejection that tears my work apart. It’s less frustrating. At least then I know what they didn’t like. In fact once, when I was first starting, I obviously didn’t read the magazine or guidelines otherwise I would have know that they didn’t accept fiction. I sent off this really great short story (okay, so it wasn’t so great) to the editor and received a response that was almost longer than the original story. It was awesome. (Yes, I know I’m strange.) The editor HATED it, but he had read the whole thing and took the time to respond in detail about everything he hated about the story even though the magazine didn’t publish fiction. I still have that letter somewhere in my piles of papers.
With the nice rejections, you don’t know which part hit the mark and which part missed. You just have to hope that when you submit another story, that you’ve guessed correctly. And there is always that nagging little voice in the back of your mind that the editor just didn’t want to hurt your feelings so they said they liked it when they actually thought it sucked. Am I a horrible writer, but don’t know it because the editors don’t want to hurt my feelings? (God I really hope not.)
Lately, all I’ve gotten is rejection letter after rejection letter. It’s depressing. I want to be that author that gets published. I want to be that author that brightens someone’s day or changes someone’s life with my stories. I don’t want to be that author who works and works but never gets anywhere.
So, tomorrow I am going to drag out all of those rejected stories and shove them back out into the slush piles where they might have the chance of getting in front of an editor who likes them enough to publish them. Then I’m going to pray.