I can no longer be bothered to count the number of rejections I’ve had for short story submissions. It is perfectly natural to feel demoralised, and disheartened, and I freely admit to both of these conditions. It is demoralising to receive a form rejection attachment from the editor, suggesting that I need to read more, and avoid clichés such as ‘he was a total psychopath’. (I have a first class honours in English Literature for heaven’s sake; I’ve been reading widely and avidly since I was two years old – how many two year-olds have YOU known with ‘superfluous’, and ‘soporific’ in their vocabulary? – not that they would know this. The premise of the story in question takes a what if scenario; what if Nick Bottom fathered a child on Titania – and I promise you, there’s not a psychopath in sight.) I can’t help feeling that such sweeping generalisations in rejection do writers no favours. I know editors are an overworked underpaid bunch, with more stories to read than there are hours in a day, BUT… I also know that it is – up to a point – a numbers game, finding someone out there who thinks my writing might be worth the gamble of publishing. I know that I have a long way to go, working at writing, refining it. There are any number of articles published in print and online that tell me this; the admirable @Bubblecow tweets links to such things everyday. Some of the advice is conflicting – it is a minefield, trying to find what to do, and what not to do, whilst trying to keep confidence in my writing. I have been told I’m good at it, BUT… I’m paying my dues, I know. I know also that there are no guarantees in what I’m attempting to achieve. BUT… there’s only so much banging my head against the wall I can take. I’m not Bart Simpson, I’m not going to keep reaching for the cake and suffer electrocution.
So. I keep writing, because how else will I learn? Writing is like living, a heuristic process. But no more short stories, since they don’t seem to be my thing. Or at least, no more short stories with a view to sending them out alone into the world. No. I’ll finish the vengeance kick story I’m writing, and then it’s back to my novel. I don’t have time to be demoralised – there’s too much to be done. And I am very determined.
(It was reading Beatrix Potter that gave me this linguistic head-start, in case you were wondering.)