Fourteen stories in all have hit slush piles across the country (there may have been one or two in Canada, as well), since I completed my first short story in February of 2009. Doesn't seem like all that long ago, really. I even remember writing a journal entry about it. From the wee hours of February 23, 2009:
I was at my brother Chris’s apartment, and I somehow managed to change the “Go Home” icon--it takes you automatically from your location to your home--from my home to Chris’s apartment…so I ended up driving around the block and landing right back in front of Chris’s apartment. I was struck by how I didn’t even realize what had happened until I pulled up in front of Chris’s place, and that’s when the story had taken form: We rely on these technologies at a great cost. Cellphones made it so we don’t know anyone’s phone number, and if we lose our phones, we’re effectively cut off from our friends, and sometimes our families. GPS’s will obviously make us never pay attention to where we’re going, so ultimately we won’t know how to get anywhere. That alone is scary enough!Forgive the spotty grammar, I had been awake for something like 20 hours when I wrote that. Anyway, fourteen stories doesn't really seem like a lot given that I've been writing for two years now, but considering how slowly I tend to write, and how often I've taken lengthy hiatuses to nurse my fragile ego after tough rejections, a story every two months ain't so bad.
GPS was also the first rejection I ever received, doled out by Emanuel Page over at Macabre Cadaver magazine. As I've detailed in previous posts, I was not prepared for rejection. I don't know that you really ever can prepare yourself for someone saying your hard work isn't good enough (not that a rejection necessarily means that...but a FORM rejection kinda does, in my humble opinion), but I definitely wasn't. I'd like to share that rejection with you now:
Hello Joseph, We have read your story, "GPS,"
and we have decided to pass on this one. Thank you for your submission
to and support of Macabre Cadaver. Regards, Emmanuel Paige Publisher, Editor, Macabre Cadaver Magazine firstname.lastname@example.org www.macabrecadaver.com
I took it pretty bad. So bad, in fact, that I didn't submit another story to a market until that October--six months later. But that six months must have done my ego some good, because the next story I wrote, "The Bright Walk" went to Clarkesworld, probably the top semi-pro magazine around today. According to Duotrope, I received a rejection letter from them on October 2nd, 2009--one day after I originally sent them the story. Talk about a kick in the pants.
I don't see the rejection in my email inbox (I've saved all of my rejections...or at least I thought I had) so I'm guessing I was so aghast at the swiftness of the turnaround I deleted it immediately, but I can guess that it looked exactly like every other rejection I've gotten from them, since Mr. Clarke only hands out 1 or 2 personal notes a month, by his own admission.
GPS underwent a rewrite and later became "Postcards From Arborville", which was rejected by The Absent Willow Review:
Dear Joseph, Thank you for submitting your work
for our review. Unfortunately, it does not meet our needs at this time.
We receive many submissions on a daily
basis and are only able to select a
small percentage of those for
publication. Please continue to write and we’d
really like to hear from you
about any future success. Kindest Regards, The Editors The Absent Willow Review http://absentwillowreview.com Absent Willow Publishing,LLC
Now, this rejection was a particular punch in the throat, not because it was a form rejection (even the ones others claim to be PRLs are really just specialized form letters in many cases), but because of how quickly it came. This was officially 1 day, but I swear it was no more than five or six hours. Maybe I'm remembering it wrong, but I remember being shocked at just how fast it came back. Undaunted, I quickly sent "Postcards" back out on her way to another prestigious market, from which I hope to hear soon.
I'm going to split this up into several parts, one post for each story I've gotten a response back on. I'll include the rejection letter if I have it, so check back!