Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fear Is The Mind-Killer.

Rescued an important e-mail from my junk folder last night (damn you Hotmail!), and saw that it was one of my stories I had submitted to this really cool magazine I love.

I stared at the e-mail, daring myself to open it. I've been hoping beyond hope that they would like my story. It's a good little story. One of my better ones in a while.

But nope, it got rejected!


For about a split second that fear gripped my heart. That fear that tells you that this is all just a big joke and that you better give up your dream and just go back to the daily grind of existence. You know, all THAT melodrama. :)

But it only lasted for a moment.

Almost immediately I put the thought out of my mind. My dream won't die that easily. Yes I had perhaps placed too much hope in this story, but the rejection wasn't all that bad even though it was a form rejection letter which I'd received. At least they gave me a reason.

Well, sort of. The form response listed four possibilities for why a given story would be rejected by this magazine:

1) Doesn't contain a sci-fi element;
2) Doesn't contain a horror element;
3) Poorly edited;
4) Other.

I got "Other" as my reason. Which I suppose is better than getting either of the previous three, especially that 3rd one -- yikes!

At first I thought the letter was stating that my story, Hatchling, got rejected for ALL of these reasons -- LOL! And I was left wondering, how is that f'n possible? It has BOTH a sci-fi and horror element, and I've been getting much better at self-editing my stories. This one was rather well polished, in fact.

But then I saw the X was next to the "other" category, and the brief explanation was: "It was a good story, but not quite right for us."

Here's the thing: magazine editors don't bullshit. Unlike your best friend or parental figures, editors don't feel the need to hold your hand and tell you something you worked on is good when it clearly sucks. If my story was truly god-awful, a comment to such effect would have been included in the message. So to have my story described as "good" -- while to some people this might be taken as mollycoddling -- I choose to take it at face value. Lord knows I've gotten the opposite end of the praise stick from editors with plenty of my other stories.

Still, I thought my story was perfect for this magazine. It could be that my understanding of what gets published at this place is off. Or that my story is not the story which appears to other people reading it.

Or it could just be a simple game of numbers. Said magazine gets a LOT of submissions. Could just be that mine didn't make the cut due to the sheer volume of other good stories submitted in the same time period.

I suspect the latter is most likely true. Just a gut feeling I have. Of course, it means my story wasn't good *enough* to stand out from the rest. But, hey, that's what I have to work on. That's my boulder to roll.

It seems I always get these rejections at the worst time possible, though. I always get them exactly right before I'm about to start writing an exciting new tale. This week had me in the familiar position of receiving two great ideas at the same time, both equally exciting and both equally persistent that I write them out first. I've spent the week so far fleshing out the details of both in my head, but by Friday I had planned to make my choice. Either way, I knew I would be having fun this weekend.

And then this happens and suddenly I'm doubting myself. And of course, doubt kills any sort of sparkly creative energy one is experiencing at any given moment.

So all morning I've been psyching myself up, trying hard to forget that I just received a major blow to my writerly psyche the night before. But if I focus only on this brand new story, and not the one that was just rejected, things get a little better at least.

And yet, still, in the dark recesses of my cluttered mind is this little nagging fear that I'm going to fail, and fail horribly.

But I never give in to that fear, for fear is the mind-killer. I must remember this always!

Anyway, I shall trod on bravely, my friends.

In the meantime -- sometime between crafting these latest two stories and playing some more Resident Evil 5 on my PS3 -- I'll find a way to send out this rejected story and a few others I've written to different venues. I might take this particular magazine out of my rotation for a few months, as I've already submitted two stories to them this year . . . and we're only in April! I still believe in my story, Hatchling, so I'm not exactly worried about it being picked up somewhere else eventually. And that's a good way of looking at the situation, no?

Onward and upward!


Captain Hook said...

Aww *hugs* David. I've been receiving rejections a lot lately too. But I refuse to get depressed. One rejection called A Mother's Best a "poignant, heartwrenching story" but they don't want to depress their readers so they passed.

Another said that their panel spent 3 months divided between whether to accept it or not. They passed in the end, but asked me to send them anything else I have. (Which at the moment is nothing.)

David Batista said...

That last response is actually a really good one. I would love to get such a rejection, if a rejection is what I'm going to be getting. :)

I would use this to inspire me to write another piece tailored to their readership. They've left the door open for you, in other words. Step on through!

Ashe Hunt said...

Yeah. I love that you learned to tell the hind-brain voices to shut the hell up! Or at least not let them take control anymore. And that was a rather promising rejection so at least you know you're on the right path!

Oh yeah, and I'm loving the Dune reference that is your post title. That's cool!

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