But then I would say that …

I have recently committed one of the writer’s cardinal sins: I submitted to a magazine that had previously rejected it a couple of years ago.  There are several things I could offer in my defence:

  • I can’t really find anything that says it’s a cardinal sin: most advice is about showing-not-telling (which is something else I might be guilty of);
  • I rewrote the story, partly as a result of feedback I received from the first submission, and also gave it a new title;
  • I do keep a record of submissions, but it’s a bit unwieldy (and changing the story’s title clearly doesn’t help).

So, there we have it: I’m guilty as charged.  I received a reply today.  The editor hasn’t noticed he’s read the story before: or if he has, he doesn’t mention it.  The story has been rejected again; as with the previous rejection there is brief feedback.  As I’ve mentioned I did rewrite the story a little following the earlier feedback; but this was largely a matter of drawing the reader’s attention to a moment I felt the editor had missed.  Here is an extract from the feedback I received the first time:

[M]y main problem was the pace of the story. It consists of a series of incidents, each of them given a brief description, but not really building up to anything or moving the story forward. It seems to simply jog along … There isn’t very much development, either of character or of plot.

This time I got:

This is an accomplished piece of writing, reminiscent in its style of Irvine Wesh (but without the Scottish accent), but apart from presenting a vignette of the unpleasant lifestyle lived by a young underclass it didn’t seem to me to have a great deal to say. … I think this was because the perspective you adopted in telling the tale was relatively external …  In my opinion what you’ve done here is set the scene for a story very vividly, but the story itself remains to be told.
I won’t be recommending this particular one for acceptance but would be interested to see more of your work in the future.
I don’t know whether to be upset that the end result is the same or encouraged by the more positive tone.  But is the tone more positive?  Perhaps I’m just imagining it.  In any case, I have vowed to be more careful about my submissions.  The story has gone out again to an editor who hasn’t seen it before.  I haven’t changed it though, because I do think it’s rather wonderful as it is.


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