Living with Rejection

Dear _____,

I am submitting my science fiction story, “Cyber Attack 2018” (4,100 words), for your consideration in _____ science fiction and fantasy anthology.

Experts predict a devastating attack on the nation’s information networks, an attack that could bring society to a standstill. “Cyber Attack 2018” depicts that very real possibility. …

—————————————————————————————————–

Dear Trina,

Thank you for submitting your story for consideration for inclusion in _____. Unfortunately, I am unable to accept the story for publication, but do wish you every success with placing it elsewhere.

Best regards,

editor, _____

—————————————————————————————————–

Yesterday I received this letter, my 136th rejection. I felt the usual reactions I have to such a rejection: do I really have any talent, should I stop writing. Then I realized there was a lesson here. I had submitted the piece before it was ready. And I had to admit that Harry was right. My husband sometimes reads my work before I submit it, which has helped to make several of my pieces stronger. I appreciate his time and value his opinion, so his reaction to my story had hurt my feelings and caused an argument.

He felt “Cyber Attack 2018” rambled, that it was not so much a story, but more a stream of facts and actions. There were too many details and too much going on. He didn’t even want to read the last few pages, said it was not interesting enough to read further. Gawd. I though his criticism of “Cyber Attack 2018” was overly harsh. But was he right?

I had spent several hours tightening the piece and thought it was pretty good. Maybe I’m not a good judge of my own work. So, what do I do next? I always ask myself that question after a rejection. I liked the story. Harry and the editor who rejected it did not. Is it worth reworking “Cyber Attack 2018?” Would my time be better spent on a new story? I don’t know. I’m too close to it. As writers, sometimes we are at a loss in determining the value in our own work, especially in the face of rejections. My critique group could help. The other members of Raleigh Area Women Writers have helped me rework numerous stories and parts of my YA novel. But the critique group doesn’t normally read genre writing.

Knowing I need some help with my science fiction and fantasy stories, I’ve recently joined Critters Workshop, which is an on-line workshop/critique group for serious writers of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. I hope they can help me with “Cyber Attack 2018” as well as some of my other genre pieces. I’m enjoying reading the stories there and learning a lot from other writers work.

I have reworked several other stories. It gives me a sense of pride to revise a story that’s been sitting on my computer, enjoyed by no one but my hard drive. There is always an emotional tug for me in my work. I care about the characters and I’m happy to share the resolution of their unique conflict and tension. I’m also usually tired when I reach “the end.” But the next step is always more exhausting: finding the right market for the story and submitting it can take several more hours. Sometimes, like today, when I sit down at the computer I feel too drained to go through the process again, especially on the heels of rejection.

As I previously posted, it isn’t finding time to write that is the problem. It is finding the energy. It takes a great deal of mental effort to write that tough scene or rewrite the paragraph that just isn’t working. I just can’t do it today.

I regularly read Tess Gerritsen’s blog, so I enjoyed her Writer’s Guide to Staying Sane. Some of her suggestions don’t apply to me, since I’m not a best selling author, but here is an excerpt from her post that I found helpful.

The publishing business is already enough to drive a writer crazy, so why should we make things even worse for ourselves? Here are some sanity-sparing suggestions that I myself am trying to stick to:

EXERCISE
Last autumn, I sprained my knee while hiking down a mountain. For two months I could barely walk, much less hike. Stuck at home, I got grumpy and flabby. Then winter set in, and the roads got icy, prolonging my inactivity. Finally I got fed up with how listless I felt and made one of the best investments of my life: I bought a treadmill. It sits right here in my office and it’s my new best friend. First thing in the morning, I turn on National Public Radio, climb onto the treadmill, and take a brisk uphill walk for half an hour. When I’m done, I feel pumped and ready to dive into my writing. And I can stop feeling guilty about my sedentary job.

CHASE OTHER INTERESTS
Indulge your hobbies. Feed your curiosity. Life isn’t just about meeting deadlines and seeing another one of your books on the stands; life is also about doing and learning cool stuff. We get about eight decades on this earth. That seems like a lot of time, but as I get older, I realize how precious little time that really is. Although I spend most of the year racing to meet my book deadlines, I’m also learning how to read ancient Greek. I’m trying to read through my copy of Herodotus, which sits on my nightstand. I’m trying to memorize a Chopin Ballade on the piano. Probably none of these hobbies will end up being used in a book, but why does everything have to be about the writing?

That might be the best advice I’ve read lately. I intend to indulge in other interests outside of writing. As a start, Harry and I are planning a relaxing day including reading, a long walk with our labrador, wine tasting and romance. I am always happy to sample new wines and give him my feedback for his wine column.

I’ve just finished Tess’s novel THE BONE GARDEN, which I loved. This historical fiction story about the grim reaper was my favorite of her books and I was sorry to reach the end. I’m now well into Patterson and Ledwidge’s STEP ON A CRACK. I’m intrigued by the detective/negotiator with ten kids and the super kidnapping of the world’s most famous.

My newest goal is chase other interests. Hopefully this will give me the necessary energy to become a better writer and overcome rejection.

Advertisements

2 Responses to “Living with Rejection”

  1. […] my work, I’m going to customize stories for specific markets. A few days after posting about living with rejection, I ran across JA Konrath’s post about using short stories to promote novels. I am enjoying […]

  2. […] The Mulberry Tree April 2, 2008 Posted by Trina Allen in All posts, Creative writing, Dogs, Fiction, My work, On writing, Short stories. Tags: acceptance, Chiron Review, fortune trackback I am happy to share that “The Mulberry Tree” will be appearing in an upcoming issue of CHIRON REVIEW. CHIRON REVIEW is a small press magazine that is just starting back after a hiatus of several years. I’m so happy I didn’t have to add another rejection to my growing pile: Living with Rejection. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: