Wednesday, September 21, 2011
The Envelope Please...
This notebook represents my eager attempts to get one of my stories published. It has charts, sticky notes, submission requirements for close to one hundred publications, a list of all my stories and where they are in the revision process. I put it together in a few days, thus avoiding the more important work of writing the stories.
I've submitted thirty-five times. I've received twenty-three rejections. Not encouraging, is it?
When we applied to colleges, remember how you waited and waited for your mail? And how the small envelope meant rejection and the large one meant you had been accepted? In the manuscript submission process, it's just the opposite. The big envelope means that your story is being sent back with a form letter that mostly says, "Thanks, but no thanks. Don't despair. Keep putting yourself on the line."
This weekend I was out of town with my dear friend, Nancy Olson, from Quail Ridge Books. When I got home, one of those large envelopes was on the counter. And it was from the magazine where I most wish to see my work published.
I opened it up and there was the best of all rejection letters! A personal note, thanking me for the submission, full of compliments, stating why they couldn't publish it (I understood), and asking me to send more work! I was as thrilled by that rejection as I would have been by an acceptance letter from another magazine.
That's all it took to rev up my energy again.
Getting something published is competitive, intense, and nerve-wracking. Not to mention hard on the confidence and ego. But I've marked "no" on my chart next to that submission, and am looking for the piece that will move the manuscript reader that sent the personal note. The perfect story is listed in that notebook, I'm sure.
PS The writing workshop with Louise Hawes is full but there will be another one in November, this one focusing on character development, with the wonderful Kim Church. Stay tuned for details.