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.
The Savior Complex
2 months ago