The R Word

not accepted

It’s been a mixed few days. Out of the pieces of work I have ‘out there’ at the moment, four pieces have returned unaccepted – yes I did just avoid the R-word. Not gonna use it either. It stings a little too much. Four pieces came home unaccepted in six days. Ouch.

The first was MOLP 4, which I wrote about on here last week. This wasn’t too much of a stinger. It was a contest that I paid a small fee to enter but I got to support an amazing charity and have a tree planted in Kenya. That made me smile and took the edge off.

The second was a quick submit to Writers Forum magazine mainly because I could pay extra for some feedback. The story had weaknesses but I wanted it confirmed that I was right about what they were. Well, I was. It’s a story where ‘nothing much happens’. However, I did get some lovely comments. Having had feedback from the same person before, I know I should take the good bits to heart as she doesn’t just throw them out there. ‘An easy to read writing style…clearly have lots of talent…I hope to see more of your work’. All positives. Right? *happy dance*.

The third was from Glimmer Train. I sent this off ages ago but wasn’t expecting it back for another few weeks. The magazine is run by two sisters who apparently read every submission they receive. The email they sent was personally addressed to me, named my story, said how much they’d enjoyed reading it but unfortunately weren’t going to accept it. I love that they took the time to send something personal. I’ve responded with a brief, polite thank you for their encouraging words. I’m sure their inbox is bursting at the seams but a short note can’t hurt, right? And I genuinely did appreciate it. They said they liked my story and hope to see more of my work. *another happy dance*

Fourth and last was The Strokestown International Prize for poetry. I was probably a little ambitious entering this one. I don’t write a lot of poetry just happen to have a few pieces lying around from ages ago. No form email or feedback from Strokestown, just a link to the shortlist, which I scanned whilst pretending not to have my heart in my mouth but ultimately my poem wasn’t on it.

So, it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster of ‘Yay, someone likes my writing’ and ‘Boo, they don’t want this piece’.

It feels a little like I’m almost there but not quite and nobody can seem to help with getting from Not Quite to actually There. It seems there are no definites of where ‘There’ actually is. Is it really that indefinable?

So, it’s time to pick myself up, keep writing, keep pulling apart what makes a great story, keep practicing my skills, keep learning new stuff.

And keep writing.

What about you? How were your early days of submitting? How do you handle work coming back? Were you first misses sent back with nice encouragement or form letters or just an acceptance deadline passed with nothing?

(And, in case you’re reading this, many thanks to the lovely friend who’s been on the receiving end of Rollercoaster Valley this week. You know who you are and you’re awesome.)




4 thoughts on “The R Word

  1. Wow! You have been busy! Kudos on all the contests. I too have submitted to Glimmer Train and so far they have not gone for it. I will keep trying. The toughest thing for me is the work and hope that goes into it. Sometimes it feels like a waste of time when I’m in a rotten mood. I could be doing my hair, hiking I dunno getting a tan? My first return query was for a novel. The agent was brutal, but honest with feedback. I cried on my porch swing until one glass of wine was gone. Then I realized how rare it is to ever hear anything. It took a week or so to feel strong about it again, but it’s tough. I don’t think it ever gets easier, but when you realize that it might improve your writing to…write more. It’s a win-win. I say keep trying because it’s worth it. Good luck out there. Take a deep breath and go for it. 💃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely empathise with the waste of time/ rubbish mood feeling. It can take a while to pick myself back up off the floor.

      Oh, that does sound brutal! But as you say, feedback is rare so clearly the novel has something about it if an agent took time to come back to you. Did you do anything more with it?

      Thanks for the encouragement, I will keep on submitting. Best of luck to you too!


  2. It was brutal, but I was lucky. I have queried more since and so far have not been successful. I know I will be, because I don’t give up. It’s a numbers game and truly about hitting it just right. Think multiple lightning strikes on a penny in a pond…The MS needs to be in great shape and researching what the agent wants is integral. Even if it doesn’t work this time, improve, work and most importantly – believe in your project. They want the next big thing, it’s our job to write it. I’m thrilled to live in a time where writing is cool again. DM me on twitter and I will send you a link to a book that will really help you. A friend wrote it and it’s free on KU. I’ve read 50+ books on how to get an agent and what they do and don’t do… hers is written from personal experience and it’s the best I’ve found. No matter what anyone says to you, if that’s what you want, you must keep going. Thanks again for sharing. Your post really struck a cord. All the best- Bibiana


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