My short story ‘After the Revolution’ has been published in issue 24 of Prole magazine. You can buy a copy here.
Image by Joanna Sedgwick
My story ‘Confusion’ will be published in the first issue of Bandit Fiction on 20th December. You will be able to download a copy here.
I don’t know if I experience rejection more than most writers: my records show that I have made 80 submissions since the start of 2013 and had nothing accepted; I am waiting to hear about almost a quarter of these. I have had work published in previous years, but it doesn’t seem like a particularly good strike rate. So what do I do when I receive the thanks-but-no-thanks email?
I sometimes tell myself that it’s a good piece of work (perhaps in need of some revision) but it wasn’t the right market. After appropriate revision, I’ll send it off to another market. This is the reasonable approach: it suits my disposition and allows me to keep on submitting my work, while maintaining my sanity. It also seems consistent with an objective appraisal of my writing.
Recently, I have tried a new attitude: my work is writing of the highest quality, tantamount to genius, and it is only the lack of judgement by various editors and other literary figures prevents it being published. This might seem vain and egotistical – not ways I like to think of myself – but you note that I say the work is ‘tantamount to genius’; I wouldn’t say this about myself.
I think my new attitude is healthier. It encourages ambition: don’t want to be a competent writer, or even a good one. I also have no way of knowing that it isn’t true. I use the phrase ‘an objective appraisal of my writing’ above, but is there really such a thing? If there is, I’m clearly not capable of producing it. If my writing is a work of genius I wouldn’t know one way or the other; while the odds are astronomical, I’d still prefer to think of it that way.
Two anecdotes about rejection:
- I submitted a short-story I really rated to a magazine. A few months later I received a rejection email from the editor. She was quite complimentary about the story and said it had made her own short-list, but that the final decision was made by an editorial team. I immediately submitted it to another magazine and received an acceptance within days: I have blogged about this story before.
- I entered a competition. The results were announced: I received neither a prize, nor a commendation. I consoled myself, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that I had probably missed out by the narrowest of margins. Some months later I was Googling myself (I know that I appear more egotistical the longer this blog goes on) and found that I had indeed made the final shortlist of the competition.