Thursday, August 09, 2007
Publication and Rejection
After a long day of driving and working and then driving some more, this time with hollering, hungry and teething children kicking and screaming in my back seat, I finally returned home to find my contributor's copy of Quality Women's Fiction in my mailbox. And there was much rejoicing. Huzzah.

Or not.

Don't misread me, the magazine is quite lovely. The editorial is wonderful and the stories that share the pages with my own are each fabulous.

No, the or not, refers to how fleeting the sense of accomplishment is. It's the same feeling I dealt with upon the release of the Family Circle issue that featured my story. Sort of an anxiety, a sense of Hmmmm, so what's next?

And then this morning in my inbox were two rejections for two different stories, both from somewhat up-and-coming literary magazines, one still working on its debut issue. And, because I'm a nosey sort of writer who does such things, I had of course found various blogs relating to The Barn Owl Review - which, though it has not accepted my piece, still intrigues me. Having followed along with Mary Biddinger's blog for the past two months or so, I think that the poetry and stories that these editors do select will be solid, good reads.

Through Mary's blog, I also found the blog of one of the fiction editors, who posted about how he had started to send out rejections (um, yes, thank you) but also about how he doesn't feel particularly bad about doing so. I thought about this for a moment, not insulted at all, simply pleased with the honesty, I guess. I don't think it's cold, really.

If I'm being honest with myself, were I in the editorial chair surrounded by a sea of unsolicited submissions, yes, I would probably not feel badly about sending rejections either. Of course, there would be exceptions, if a story really struck a chord with me, but it simply wasn't right for the magazine I was working on, for example.

But ultimately, a rejection is such a small thing, in many cases a matter of a piece not fitting exactly right, like a puzzle, why spend time fretting about either giving or receiving them? Most editors are writer's themselves, each with their own history of rejection, so it's not as though they're unappreciative of the efforts of their would-be authors. And to be at least read and appreciated as a person willing to put their work out there, I suppose is good enough.

Well, not as good as a pat on the back and a Yes! Please, and send us more. But enough to keep one motivated to continue to find the space where her story is designed to shine.

(As I write this, my son is sitting at the kitchen table piecing together puzzles of his own, every so often calling out a triumphant "I did it!" - which is perhaps some of the best encouragement I can have as a writer, seeing my children working away at things until they master them.)

I came across this article yesterday by Jodi Picoult, about the trials of writing and publishing. It's not news. We've all heard the stories of various now famous authors who once collected their own stacks of rejection letters. Still it was reassuring, if for no other reason than because it serves as a reminder that this struggle to become an author is nearly equal parts talent and perseverance. And perhaps I'll luck-out and far more talented writers than I will fall to the wayside, unwilling to slog through stacks of rejections, thus paving the way for the likes of me. A woman on a mission.

And speaking of missions and challenges and such things - I'm doing well. Not writing daily though, due to obligations to my children and family and work - but when I am writing, it is hard and intense and for greater lengths. I'd say I'm at about 20,000 words, perhaps 25, I'll need to do an actual count.

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Blogger zhoen said...

20K is pretty good at this point. Right on target. I didn't write on some days of the nanow either.

I like that view of 'rejection', very astute.

Blogger Susanna Rose said...

You are on a mission and it is clear you stand out above the rest and I think you would even if more people persevered!:)

I've seen with blogging too that family obligations just have to come before and even if that means having to be kind of inconsistent, it is the only way I guess, even if that seems so frustrating sometimes!


Blogger Heather said...

I've heard quite a bit about the Barn Owl Review and am looking forward to January! (Although January will mean I'll be officially 30, so I suppose a little more waiting won't hurt.)
But I don't know QWF other than what I've seen in Writer's Market. I'll have to look into them.

Blogger Mella said...

QWF is a 10 year old (?) publication formerly based in the UK, which is possibly why it hasn't garnered so much attention here in the states.

It moved to America last July when the British women who began it decided it was time to take a break. Thus, it's now based out of Wisconsin, of all places.

(Still has several UK authors though...)

Blogger Penultimatina said...

Hi Mella!

I've been working for litmags over ten years now, and sending rejections still makes me sick. Sometimes I wish I could just put out like thirty different journals a year where all of the poems and stories that hang well together can hang. I'm not reading fiction mss right now so I'm not familiar with your submission, but thanks so much for being intrigued, and do think of us during our next reading period. I'll be posting the dates on my blog, and the BOR blog, once we figure it out.

On the other subject, I'm so amazed at how some writers--especially in the 60s and 70s--were able to balance motherhood with writing in such an admirable way. I have two kids--14 mos and 5 years--and I am in a constant state of frazzle. I'm looking forward to when my little one is 5, because that's such a great age. Finally they can listen to reason (sometimes).

Anyhow, it's really nice meeting you, and thanks for mentioning BOR!

Much cheer,

Mary B.

Blogger Mella said...

Hi Mary, it's so nice of you to take a moment to say hello. (Especially as I've been more or less a lurker on your blog for some time now...shame on me...)

And what's this about five year olds listening to reason? I can hardly wait! At the moment my son is still trying out for the North American Poop-Football league (don't ask...let's just say it involves more diapers than it does footballs) - and my daughter is gnawing on everything in sight, including me. Which makes writing very, very difficult.

As I know you can understand. Frazzled sums it up pretty well, I'd say.

Blogger LJ said...

I forget which writer advised that rejections can happen because the editor's breakfast was burnt that morning before work. That. Other things. Not everyone has the same ear for a voice...

Maybe acceptance and rejection are simply by-products and should be treated as such. Writing well is where the joy is.

So I wish you joy - and know the rest will come.

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