I don’t know how these “emerging” writers do it. Sometimes, I think of the human spirit as a tank of gas. In your twenties, you still have more than 3/4 left, so you plow through all the disappointment and heartache without much trouble. By the time you surpass thirty, you’re nearing the halfway mark, and all those potholes of disappointment have started to slow you down; some of the bad ones might’ve caused a leak.
Last year, I sent a few short stories out into the abyss known as Submittable.com. Of course, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I sent each of those stories to a handful of literary magazines, then started to check my inbox every five minutes. I just wanted one of them picked up, by anyone, for free even. One creative publishing credit to my name would’ve made my year. Hell, it would’ve vindicated me from all those bad decisions that brought me here, now, at this age, with nothing to show for it.
Every. Story. Was. Rejected.
Now, I’ve read and heard the platitudes. Harry Potter was rejected 60 times, Edgar Allen Poe died a penniless drunk in the street, this or that person’s cousin’s friend sent her poem into 47 million magazines before anyone published it. That’s lovely, but I’m not delusional. You don’t plow through all the depraved nonsense I’ve plowed through and arrive safely in fairytale land. If someone tells me five times that something I wrote sucks, then … well… it stands to reason that … it sucks. So I gave up in a “you don’t need to tell me twice” way and crawled back inside my hole. I tried and failed.
It’s 1300 words of fiction. I sent it to another handful of publications recently, fully expecting rejection. It’s called “The Terrorist,” and if reading it brought you here, I would like to thank you for your time and curiosity. Like I’ve said, I have absolutely, literally nothing left to lose. That’s why I’d also like to beg you to reconsider your pending rejection because a dog can only get kicked so many times before it bleeds-out and dies. Tell me how to change my writing, tell me how to make it worthy of publication, tell me exactly why this story sucked. If you’re an editor reading this, you think there’s hope. Give some to me. Thanks for letting me inside your head.