Over the years that I’ve been writing and submitting my stories for publication, I’ve received hundreds if not thousands of rejection letters and emails, and I’m still not immune to the sting of rejection.
I have enough rejections to line the walls of my dining room. Stuff like, “not for us,” “thanks for submitting, but we’ve decided….” or the worst one: “not funny and not fair.” Yikes!
It’s hard enough to put yourself and your work ‘out there.’ Still, rejection comes with the territory. And of course, one can always rewrite (or not) and re-submit someplace else, move the story to an archive file, join a writing group, or simply rationalize: They wouldn’t know a good story if it hit them in the arse.
In my heart of hearts, I’ve never quite believed that once your writing has reached a certain level of competence, it’s a matter of taste. Still, this is what other (more accomplished) writers have been telling me.
And then this happened:
My story 13 Rules recently won first prize in the short-short story writing contest run by At the same time that I submitted 13 Rules to NMW, I submitted it along with two other flash fictions to Fiction Attic Press. (Yes, multiple submissions are ok, particularly if a publication’s guidelines say it is.)
When 13 Rules won, I was so bowled over I forgot to notify Fiction Attic and withdraw it from their consideration. Bet you can guess what happened next….
A few weeks after I won the NMW fiction contest, Fiction Attic emailed me to say it wanted to publish two of the three flash fictions I submitted – and the one they didn’t want was – ta da! – 13 Rules.
Which just goes to show:
1) One man’s meat is another man’s poison.
2) After a certain level of competence, it really is just a matter of taste.
Of course all of us who have had our work rejected are in really good company. Here are 30 famous authors whose works were rejected (repeatedly, and sometimes rudely) by publishers
p.s. Coward that I am, I never did tell Fiction Attic the story they rejected just won 1st prize somewhere else.