Nobody likes me! Dealing with short story rejection

Nobody likes me! Dealing with short story rejection

That’s what I got on Friday night.
After dinner with my in-laws, just before we left I went to the bathroom and checked my email and saw this:

Dear Mr. Hall,

Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately at this time, it does not meet our needs.


Slush Editor

For a moment, I was stunned. And then slowly progressed into feeling crushed.
The story that I had loved, conceptualized, written, cleaned up, edited, had numerous rounds of beta readers look over, and then finally mustered up my courage to send had been declared unfit. And the slush reader had done it with a form letter, no less.
My ego had just been sat upon… no, shat upon, by an elephant. My partner and I started the drive back to our house and halfway home, I broke the news to her.
“Oh no, that’s awful honey, I’m so sorry.”
“I just feel like it was a really good fit for that magazine, you know?”
“Maybe it just didn’t fit in with what they have planned for the next little bit…”
“That’s not something that slush readers usually are informed about. They’re kind of the first line against unsolicited submissions.”
“Yeah. They just decide whether something is ‘go’ or ‘no go’. So apparently to this person, this story was a ‘no go’.”

I tried not to let it get to me, not to erode some of the confidence that I had been feeling about this story. But there’s a lot that I have connected with this. After returning to writing in my 30’s, I feel the pressure of a ticking clock. I have goals and I work hard to achieve them.
But life also gets in the way. On top of that, I’ve had a long-standing battle with chronic depression that has the ability to drain the flavor from anything that I have passion for. This is what lead me to not even touch my first novel this year, to completely stop edits. It also killed my second novel midway through.
In the past couple months, I’ve been feeling a little better though, and I decided to pick through some old short stories that I had written and then set aside.
One was this one. And like a magic spell, I put all of my hopes and all of my intent into it as I put it out into the universe.
So I came home and tweeted this out:

And I got back some encouragement from some friends, which was all I really needed.

Here’s the thing, using the spell metaphor, this is among my first spells. I’m still a novice when it comes to threading my voice into the web of the world and making it change. If one of my threads is just slightly off, the spell won’t happen as intended. So no, while this post may have looked like a boo hoo pity party, it’s not. This is me saying, it’s okay. It’s one story and it was one market. I know every experienced writer out there is going to say, ‘so what? I eat rejections for breakfast!’ And my response is first, that’s a terrible breakfast, but secondly, that’s the attitude that every novice needs to have. And that’s why, early the following morning, I tweeted out this:

And it probably won’t be the last market I submit to for this particular story either. I’m hoping I get more than a form letter but I understand that magazines are overrun with folks like me. Folks who lob our thought-crap at them, and then look in dewy-eyed askance for acceptance.
So what am I doing? Writing another short story while I wait, lining up the next couple of markets (thanks to Duotrope for making it easy). And making plans for my novels, trying to get those behemoths rolling again.