Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I Get Off On Submitting My Rejected Stories - Part 2

Twelfth time's a charm, it seems.

A few days ago, I sold my short story, "Better Than Everything", to SQ Mag for publication in their upcoming July 1 issue. 

Over an eight-month period, the story was rejected 11 times. Only three of those rejections were personalized. 

Not especially a good ratio, right? Wrong. 

When it comes down to it, those three rejection letters made all the difference for the final version of the story. Here, take a look at what I mean:

One editor's rejection letter said:

There’s a strong style here, but the narrative itself feels at turns compressed — lots of exposition frontloaded into dialogue — or, in the end, unfinished. Therefore, I'm unable to accept this piece for publication.
Another editor told me:
...this had a lot to recommend [about] it, especially the characterization, but in the end, stories this short are a hard sell with [Magazine Title], and we felt this just didn't accomplish as much as it could have.  We're always pleased to see stories from you, and we hope you send us more.
While it's not right for us, I hope you find a good home for it soon.
And the third editor elaborated a bit more:
 Thank you again for submitting 'Better Than Everything' forconsideration by [Magazine Title]. The editors have read your story andafter some discussion we have decided not to take it for publication. 
This was a really nice story, well-written and with a strong and moving story. I enjoyed reading it, but I think it wasn't given enough space to be as powerful as it could have been. For me, the weakness was that we only met the protagonists when Jae Lyn was already dying, and so we never saw them close, or affectionate, or needing each other. All other human relationships are explained by way of infodump, and while the interplay of the narrator, Jae Lyn, the parents, and Matty were fascinating and convincing, we only heard about them, didn't see them happen, and so didn't feel them. I'd like to see this story given more room to breathe. 
We'd like to thank you again for thinking of us with this story, and wish you the very best with your writing in the future.
 Now, a few things:

First, the story (at least, in the beginning) was too short, as all three editors noted. Initially, I wrote this as a flash fiction piece, but in my head, the story expanded with far more breadth than just a couple hundred words. I'd tried to cram too large a story into too few words.

Second, there really was a lot of exposition/info-dumping, as two editors noted. Still, I thought the story flowed well, despite that. The final version has somewhat less exposition, but I feel the exposition is needed to root the reader into this story's world and events.

And finally, I take these rejections with a grain of salt. I realize these editors have specific tastes geared toward the view and themes of their magazines, and my story just didn't do it for them. 

But on the flip side of that, I also realize this story had glaring flaws: story length and info-dumping. All three editors pointed that out.

So, while I didn't hit the tastes of these editors, I also didn't give them a polished story. Revisions were definitely needed.

That being said, these rejections made my day. Obviously, they didn't make me all warm and fuzzy inside as an acceptance would, but these rejections did show me that I was on the right track, both with my writing style and the story itself.

 Though, I must say, it pleased me to no end that the one editor said she's always pleased to see stories from me. She's given me another very good rejection letter in the past.

When all is said and done, this is one of the reasons I get off on submitting my rejected stories. I truly enjoy taking this sort of feedback from editors, using it to re-tool my stories, and then sending my lovelies back out into the world for acceptance. 

I'm not sure what that says about me  other than I'm doing my damnedest to get better at what I love to do.

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