Yeah, this isn’t a BDSM article. Maybe next time.
I’m collecting a most beautiful selection of form letters for my short fiction. I have an Excel spreadsheet entitled ‘The Book of Rejection’, which grows more populous by the week. It’s very colourful and very depressing, but it keeps me organised.
Today I completed and submitted another piece, which is always a bit of a rush. Well, to me. Other people probably have lives.
Pressing the ‘submit’ button is needlessly nerve-wracking – it’s not like the computer is about to instantly respond with “YOU ARE A FAILURE!” or “YOU WIN!”, but it’s still a jittery moment. Especially considering I have, in the past, submitted a) the wrong document, b) the wrong file format. It’s the stuff of nightmares. So until I receive an auto-response saying, “’kay, we got your stuff”, I sit around and bite my nails.
At the moment, I have three pieces out there that, if accepted, could change my life.
In total, there are presently six stories in slush pile circulation. The-Not-Big-Three pieces are sitting with good publications, but getting them accepted wouldn’t be world-changing. It would certainly be nice though.
I have another ten stories that have either been accepted or have been temporarily/permanently retired. Some were written for specific anthologies and need to be reworked if they are to be sent elsewhere. Other pieces…just aren’t good enough in hindsight.
I think that’s probably the most valuable thing I’ve learnt in the last year of submitting. Hell, never mind the part about submitting. That’s just the most important thing I’ve learnt in the last year fullstop.
Solid, well-constructed and average aren’t going to cut it. That sounds obvious, but until someone tries this game for themselves, it isn’t going to fully register. Even then, it can take a while to click. Yes, the stories are good; they’re readable and fun. But that’s not enough. They need more –more depth, more creativity, more punch. It’s simply a matter of upping my game.
Also, it is wonderful to learn this BEFORE sending a novel out in the world. The rejection of these little stories is less crushing.
I got an auto-response from today’s publication, which inadvertently gave away the number of subs they had received so far. And it was way, way, way, way, way (I’ll stop sometime), way lower than I was expecting. Like, I was thinking 1500+, given that this was open to the entire continent. They had under 200.
Yes, almost everyone submits at the last moment, and yes, there are still four days. But then if the number of subs doubles (which I think unlikely), this is still an unexpected source of delight. And last minute submissions will hopefully be less polished. Basically, I pray that everyone else sucks. Good sportswoman, I am not.
No, I will not say what this publication is. Sorry, dear reader, I don’t want any more competition than is strictly necessary. Because this is a huge opportunity. If I do this right, I could have a job. I could be a real grown-up person, who gets to do what she loves every day. I want this so bad, it’s ridiculous.
In other news, I’m expecting someone to finally fish my novella out of the slush pile in the next two weeks. It’s been a long wait, but I’m down to 26th in the queue. In spite of everything, I still believe those 34 000 words stand a shot. Call me delusional.
And at the end of the day, I’ll just have to keep trying. Drink some (okay, a lot) of Amarula after the rejections and then pick myself up and forge on. This is how it works for everyone. And I know I’m getting better.