Friday, December 12, 2014

ARRRRRRRRGHHHH

(He must have died while dictating it.)

A really, really nice rejection note I got today on a story I really, really cared about. For no particular reason, I will take the name of the journal out.:

Thank you so much for submitting "Savage, Maryland" to ______. Though the piece received many favorable comments, it was not selected for publication in the upcoming issue. However, we all admire your writing and sincerely hope you will submit to future volumes. On a personal note, I once lived in Howard County (western side—Highland/Fulton) and have been on the quarry trails, so your piece was especially evocative to me. You drew this setting beautifully.

God. Damn. It. It's a really nice note, and with that level of specificity, there's no chance this is a "fake personal rejection." They really liked it. They just had more good stuff than they could fit. Fuck me.

It occurs to me that one thing that compelled me to start writing again was that I had some things inside of me I really had to get out. But I don't want to just put them on a page for my own personal catharsis. I want to share them, because some of them I really love. I want to give them away. That's how I felt about "American as Berbere," the one that did get published. There are a few more I really love and just want to find an audience. This is my third "encouraging rejection" in three months. I should be encouraged, but right now I just feel empty. If I am making pro-cons lists of whether to keep up this effort of writing, this deflated feeling right now of almost having found a home for this story is in the con column. I am not an indefatigably chipper person. If you tell me no enough times, I will stop asking. I'm really low right now. Which is not how I should feel after someone just said such really nice things about a story I wrote. Shit. 


3 comments:

  1. Although, really, how much of a "home" or audience does getting published in a reputable but smallish lit mag really give me? 50% of the reason I established this blog was because I found out Baltimore Review was publishing me, and I wanted to have a place where someone could contact me if they liked the story. I've heard nothing, leading me to wonder if anyone other than possibly the other people who are contributors and my family and friends even read it.

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  2. I don't know how I stumbled on this blog, it was your typical down-the-internet-hole I'm sure, but its a bittersweet feeling of discovery to read about your experience submitting to contests. Its heartbreaking, I really hope you get the opportunity to share your work because I know that feeling of waiting and not knowing if the sincere effort you put into the work is finding anyone, and its also inspiring because you did it and you were brave enough to share it. You should definitely take this rejection as encouragement, there are too many publications in the world to quit at just one. And writing is the best way to reach someone. Maybe it won't seem that anybody is reading, but you really never know where your work will go and who will eventually pick it up and love it for all of the work that you put into it. I became really obsessed with publication when I was in college and it made it hard for me to produce new work that I was proud to share, because so many things that I had already produced were being rejected (and rightly so), but since then I've tried to keep in mind why writing is so important to me, why I even want to be published. I want to be published because I want to be a story teller and I've spent a lot of time becoming a better one, its a fun hobby for me. Every now and then I submit something to publications that I submitted to in the past and even if I don't get the response I want, it doesn't make me wary of my original goal, to become a better story teller. Getting bogged down in the validation is antithetical to the purpose and function of the art form; unless you are only intending to produce heartbreaking works about rejection I guess. The point is to make what you do the best it can be and a time will come when your vision will be undeniable, because you learned from the rejection and you listened to feedback from the readers you do hear from. A teacher told me something very valuable when I was still in school, he told me that writing is a lifelong journey, as you grow and evolve so does the work, and you hope that others share your enthusiasm, but don't forget why its fun for you; when you're not having fun the writing isn't as good. Sorry for the long reply, I'm very interested in reading the works you published if you have links to purchase.

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  3. Thanks for the comment, Roy. Obviously, I don't come here much anymore, so I'm just now seeing it. There's nothing of mine to purchase. You can go to baltimorereview.org, pick the fall 2014 episode, and read "American as Berbere" if you want to read the only story I got published.

    I wrote that way for a long time--just for me, for fun, for whatever. But at some point, I want to share these stories. If it's just me reading them, there's no point to writing them. If I'm not getting them shared because I'm just not a good enough writer to make them worth sharing, then I don't want to waste my time writing more stuff to sit on my computer.

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