But I gotta do it. If I don't, it'll just simmer, and I'll feel rotten for the rest of the day.
Weathered another rejection.
On one hand, I wasn't surprised. With the exception of one awesome instance - which hopefully I'll be able to share soon - almost every response I've gotten from editors in the last YEAR AND A HALF, I've automatically assumed it was a rejection. And of course, that didn't help me feel much better. Really, right now I'm sorta in the throes of that whole: "This ain't freaking worth it, I'm not writing another short story ever again!!!"
Now, wait for it...here it is:
Okay. I'll survive. Will be back up tomorrow early in the morning, fighting the good fight. And, in reflection - when I move past how disappointed I am about this rejection, because I REALLY thought I'd nailed it this time, I think I've come around to another clarification of how I should spend my writing time, especially on short stories.
No more themed submissions.
Must write from my heart and soul, from inside me. Now, I try to infuse all my stories with this, but...I need to write ONLY stories that find their genesis COMPLETELY from me. The problem with themed submissions, for me, anyway?
Too easy to write a trope, in an effort to get into the anthology. Which just doesn't cut it. And, of course, when the story's not accepted, I'm left with a story I'm not sure I can send anywhere else.
Mort Castle gave me this advice recently, in answer to my questions about how to "raise my game" for short stories:
"But if you want it all to come alive, well...as Mr. Langston H has it ...
Let the poem come out of you/
then it will be true.
The real stuff, the stuff that lives and lasts, comes out of late night conversations with your very own self."
My latest - heck, ONLY acceptance over the past year and half - was a story that grappled with questions I have about eternity, hell, punishment, limbo, purgatory, and forgiveness. Another story - one solicited that I still haven't heard back about yet - really grappled with my conflict over how Americans react to those different from us after 9/11. This most recent rejected story?
I think it was competent. Written decently enough. And, dammit - it and most likely 50 other stories EXACTLY like it - were probably good.
But that's the point.
50 other stories like it.
So, I'll shelve that story. Avoid themed collections from now on. And keep trying, dammit, to write something that comes out of a late night conversation with my very own self. Because believe it or not....
I have a list of those conversations. Time to start running over it.
And, there's also this: I suppose I'd rather be rejected from a top-flight anthology, than get accepted into a sub-par one. A very tiny comfort, but it's something...