Thursday, January 17, 2008

When rejections strike

I've received three short story rejections in the last couple of days.

The first one bit a little hard. The editor was friendly, but his words still stung a bit. He said the story read as if it weren't finished, as if it needed another strong editing. What made this sting so much was it was an older story, one I've had for at least 5 or 6 years and it's already been edited probably a dozen times or so. Ouch!

But then there were the other two rejections I received today.

The first told me I was a good writer, but there was a particular fault with the story they didn't find acceptable, so they were passing. That's cool. No big deal. I understand. Without going into detail, I disagree about this "fault," but hey, to each their own. I'll try submitting elsewhere for now and hit this market up again sooner or later.

Then there was the last rejection I received. It started with, "You are a damn fine writer."

Okay, hold the brakes. I have never, ever, had an editor say that to me. That was great to hear. But still, they rejected the story because they felt it was a bit too dark for their publication. Again, that's cool. No big deal. I'll try again.

So, three different stories with three different rejections from three different publications. And I loved every word I received from those editors, even the not-so-great stuff. I always love receiving feedback from editors, even if I don't always agree with what they say because they can give me a new viewpoint about something I've written.

Yes, I'm crazy.


JB Dryden said...

I've also received a number of rejections the past week or so, and I understand the frustration and elation all at the same time. It's interesting how different people interpret your story in such a way as to reject it for missing something or saying too much when you think that's exactly why the story would work for their publication.

Editors are fickle people, mostly, and we just want to have a good cup of coffee while we read. You always have to deal with appeasing the senses of one editor or the other.

I wish you the best of luck. You are "a damn fine writer".

cyn said...

good for you for keeping your short stories on submission rotation, ty!

and yay for the last rejection comment. that is a compliment!

i haven't written short stories since high school. i'm not sure if i ever will again. we'll see.

Howard von Darkmoor said...

nope, even from the editor's seat I sit, you're a strange cookie ;)
congrats on the nice rejections though, I guess.

Hey Boone, glad to see you're visiting a quality blog. ;)

and cyn, you are a short story!

Ty Johnston said...

Hey jb, thanks for dropping by. Though I'm not an editor, I am a slush reader, and yep, I can be fickle at times. I'm sure my mood can affect my reading of slush. I try not to dig into the slush piles when I'm not in a particularly good mood, but sometimes I'll get lucky and a story will brighten my day.

cyn, you might give short stories a try some time. It's a different craft than novel writing, and it has benefits and thrills of its own.

Jason ... Boone is visiting a quality blog? Which one? I need to know about it.

Swashbuckler said...

I will not read slush when I'm in a foul mood. I'm harsh enough on slush when I'm in a good mood ...

I've also found that reading slush after reading something really good is a no-no. I was reading Ursula K. Le Guin's "Powers" concurrent with reading anthology subs. Trust me, everybody's stuff looked like shit compared to Le Guin (so does my own stuff). I decided to put the submissions I read concurrent with her novel back, so I can read them again without mentally comparing them to Le Guin.

Seriously, though, Ty: Your approach to rejections is the best way to go. Even the ones that piss you off because it seems an editor entirely missed the point of your story can be instructive -- of course, you still have to figure out whether the editor missed the point because you didn't make it clear enough, or if the editor missed the point because the editor probably should be working at McDonald's instead.

Keep slugging.