Thursday, May 15, 2008

Weathering a Few Rejections

I completed the epilogue to my novel about a year and a half ago. Conveniently it worked very well (I thought) as a short story. What a coup if I could manage to get it published in a top journal then! I imagined writing the line in the cover letter accompanying my book: "A portion of this novel has been published in the Hoopty Doo Review."

Unfortunately the editing teams at various top tier literary journals don't seem to share two of my opinions: (1) that only in exceptional cases does literary fiction, short or otherwise, tend to be artful in style yet avoid being overly mundane, and (2) that my story is one of those exceptions. Hmph.

I avoided the New Yorker since a writer friend informed me they don't consider stories from those without representation (not sure if that's true but it sounded reasonable), so I started by submitting to the other big commercial magazines, namely Harpers followed by Atlantic Monthly, and got a nice slice of humble pie from both.

Gathering up my resolve, I have since submitted to ten literary journals, all of which (Ploughshares, Zoetrope, One Story, etc.) have had at least a few of their stories picked for the O. Henry awards and Best American Short Stories in the past 20 years. All but two have sent me their rejections (which I keep in my copy of Confederacy of Dunces), including the Yale Review just this week.

I'm beginning to gear up for another round of submissions, but geez, I'm feeling a little disillusioned here. I mean, I don't care how selective they are. Can't they see how totally awesomely spectacularrific my story is? Did they really read it carefully? How could they possibly reject it if they did???

It's tough, because given the number of submissions they receive I only get form responses back (sometimes with my name or the title of the story handwritten at the top). Thus, I have no sense of why the story wasn't appropriate for their journal, or (inconceivably) what in the story was lacking.

Good thing I'm in an otherwise great mood lately. I'm still on pace to finish a draft by May 31, and I think it's coming out really well.

6 comments:

JUB said...

HEY, LOTS OF VERY TALENTED & SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE SUFFERED FROM REJECTION IN THE BEGINNING OF THEIR CLIMB. THEY TRUSTED THEIR TALENTS AND KEPT RIGHT ON GOING. YOU DO THE SAME. THIS WAY WHEN YOU GET THERE (AND PLEASE NOTE I SAID "WHEN"), YOU WILL APPRECIATE IT ALL THE MORE. I SOMETIMES WONDER WHAT GREAT NOVELS I'VE MISSED OUT ON BECAUSE SOMEONE SENT A REJECTION LETTER AND THE WRITER NEVER TRIED AGAIN. GO GO GO. JUB

Amanda said...

It was going to be easy, you wouldn't want it and, as my dear old Gran used to say "It's a grand life if you don't weaken." So pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back to it.

Remember that I'm-starting-my-part-time-working-writing-life feeling? Now's the time to pull it out.

J. Rosemary Moss said...

I remember my first rejection letter--er, actually, it was a rejection e-mail. Not fun! But rejection seems to be part of the game. I agree with everything Jub and Amanda said--don't give up!

Jim Cooney said...

Grazie, ladies, for the words of encouragement. I must admit it is starting to feel routine in a way, which is good. Gotta develop that tough skin.

Senor said...

You're epilogue was one of the favorite pieces I read this year. I really think you have a future as a short story writer if you want it.

Susan Malter said...

Thank you for writing. I am just starting with submissions and queries. It is nice to feel less alone.