Been feeling pretty good about myself lately, have to say. Not with the fitness/weight management issues, mind you, but in terms of writing, I’ve been feeling ok. Until yesterday. The see-saw finally tipped down after about a month of praise, high hopes, and a steady stream of ideas for stories. What prompted the tip? Oh, you know…
Strangely, when I read the cursory and chilly email from the editor I wasn’t particularly bothered. The editor did not specifically criticize the piece I’d submitted; it was more of a “it isn’t a good fit for our publication” type of rejection. Ok. Fair enough. As the minutes ticked by, I dove into something else immediately knowing that if I sat and stared at the email, I would fall right off the see-saw. The words “not a good fit” continually looped around in my brain. Really, why not? I wondered. It seemed like a good fit when I sent it…What does she mean not a good fit? Is that editor-speak for the story sucks and it will never be published? Anywhere? Ever?
You see where I landed: Off the see-saw, head first into the dirt and wood chips.
Thankfully, my busy family life provided a distraction. After the kids got home from school, I had no time to sit around and mope. Different story this morning. When I opened my laptop, it was as if I had fallen into a cold puddle. I stared at the blank screen. All I could think of was: it was rejected, rejected, rejected. Had I aimed too high? Where to submit it next? When will I hear from the other editors I’d foolishly sent it to? Should I get busy and write some other unworthy story? Should I pour myself a big glass of orange juice or should it be a big glass of merlot ? (it’s 9:45 a.m.)
I worry that I will never find a home for this story. This train of thought quickly cascades into any story. I worked very, very hard on this one. I will confess, I don’t always work so hard on things but this one was…special. Did I break a cardinal rule of writing by thinking it was good? Maybe I don’t know how or where to place my work – does anyone ever know how to do that? Does everyone know but me?
I made some notes in my journal yesterday about submitting work to literary journals and magazines. Of course, these publications always want you to buy issues,read them – get a feel for what they publish. Of course, this is a great idea. A wildly impossible and impractical idea. I simply cannot afford to purchase copies of every literary journal out there; not even a few of them. Some of them do publish excerpts or a select story or two online. I always look for those. I always read the submission guidelines and try to follow them to the letter. I read the editor’s notes in Poets & Writers as well as those in Writer’s Market. I try to glean as much information from these sources as I possibly can.
Am I doing it all wrong? It would be nice to know so that I don’t fall off the see-saw and hurt myself. I don’t mind the ups and downs. I have a good supply of Gravol in the medicine chest. Dizzying ups and downs are part of the process. I don’t like falling off particularly but I understand it happens. What I’d like to know, I guess, is how much body armour to wear OR what can I do to prevent myself from falling right off…every time.
Time to climb back on the see-saw and get to work…