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.)