Another day, another rejection letter.
I find I’m less upset as time goes on; maybe it’s because they become increasingly expected, and thus I no longer have to “psych myself up” before opening the dreaded email, or maybe it’s because these rejection letters have become—strangely—increasingly friendly.
Today’s letter came in response to a short story I submitted to a fantasy anthology series. I’ve been a fan of these particular books for many, many years. I was thrilled to find they accept unsolicited submissions, and I was pleasantly surprised to receive a personal note from the editor in response to my story. (Most of the time, silence is my answer.)
She didn’t hate it. Hey, that’s always a great start. In fact, after mentioning a few minor changes in punctuation and grammar, she felt it was a solid piece of work. She just didn’t feel it was a good fit for this particular anthology.
So, that’s where I’m at now. It took me years to overcome the vast ego that dominated my late teens/early twenties. I finally admitted that I needed to learn more about the nuts-and-bolts rules of the writer’s craft (whereas I had previously assumed that the magnitude of my natural gift alone was more than enough…what a fool I was. Worse yet, you can’t teach someone who already knows. I think back on all the years of opportunities for growth and experience I wasted because I already knew what I was doing… but that’s an essay for a different day). In the last few years, I’ve attended workshops, and conferences, and I have re-drafted, and re-drafted, and re-drafted. I’ve read about writing, I’ve studied the books I love (until I just about sucked all the joy out of them and turned them into how-to manuals on storytelling); I’ve sweated and slaved for self-improvement…
And now it comes down to no longer being a question of being “good enough,” but not being the “right fit.” It’s both frustrating and disappointing, if I’m being honest.
I know I’ll keep looking, and keep pushing, like I always do, and I’ll take pride in the fact that I must have turned a major milestone on the path to success—I am good enough. Now I just have to find the right market. My new motto (rather than believing that I already know everything) is that I just need to get a little better every day. It’s just like running; you don’t do a marathon on your first attempt, you’ve got to build it up over time. That’s the secret.
Better. Every. Day.
And I know the only way I’ll fail is if I quit trying.