Friday, October 23, 2009

The Rejection Blues

“As part of a panel on "Submitting Your Short Story," I found myself saying, "I totally grant the possibility that a story I sent out sucks, and I do give rejections and comments the power (eventually) to let me know such a thing. But I would never grant them the power to determine whether I'm a writer or not. No one gets to decide that but me." -- Randall Brown in Submitting Your Story (As Opposed to Yourself).
Randall’s post comes at a perfect time for me. I received two rejection e-mails this week, and the last two stories I submitted to a weekly writing challenge received less than rave reviews. I checked my submissions database, and I’ve received 181 rejections since July of 2007. I didn’t look at how many stories this covered. Some were rejected multiple times.

You might think I'd be used to rejection, but it still hurts; especially when, for whatever reason, I expect an editor to fall in love with a story. One aspect of the process that bothers me is when an editor (and this happens in critique groups also) explains how he would have written the story, or what he expected at the end. Gosh, if I wanted to write his story, I would have interviewed him before I started. Okay, that may be sour grapes, but I’m interested in how my story worked, not what someone else’s expectations were. I don’t remember who it was that suggested no critique should include the word I, but I agree.

In the end, I have to remember Randall’s advice and realize it’s not me an editor is rejecting. It’s my story. On the good news side, I received three acceptances this week, and a three to two ratio is something to be happy about. Still ...


Loren Christie said...

I think you are a very skilled writer, Jim. Thanks for the helpful post.

Randall Brown said...


Thanks for the shout-out. And congrats on the acceptances. I look forward to your series of "Interviews with Editors" that lists, in excruciating details, all that each editor desires in his/her stories.

Jim Harrington said...

What a great idea, Randall. I'll get to work on it.