Tag Archives: submitting stories

Taking A Break

I really just had to stop writing for a while. It can be so frustrating, so unrewarding. In business, I did something and I saw the results, usually right away. And people told me what they thought about what I did – good or bad.

But it’s not like that for a writer. You get a LOT of rejections and usually there’s no explanation. Even when something gets published, the feedback is minimal. And there’s this growing feeling I’ve been having¬† that science fiction stories just don’t matter as much as securing the computer networks of large corporations – which is what I did in the business world. And it’s true! SciFi stories are just entertainment. But an unsecure computer network can cost a company billions, cause people to lose their jobs, upset who-knows-how-many customers, etc.

I got to the point where I couldn’t write anything. It was probably triggered by the repeated rejection of a story that’s one of my personal favorites – a story I’m convinced is better than dozens of published stories I’ve read. I originally called it Intelligent Designers, then changed the name to Just a Minor Firmware Upgrade. Although it’s gotten its share of form rejections, there have been two odd personal rejections, one mentioned earlier in this blog in THIS post, and one a few days ago – two words long – “Not Bad!” That’s it. A form rejection with Not Bad! tacked onto the end of it. Thanks a lot for nothing!

I know that rejection is the universal experience of the writer (unless you’re already a celebrity or someone in the public eye), and that a thick skin is a prerequisite for this trade. So maybe I’m just not someone who ought to be doing this.

But then, this morning, I wake up, the sun shining, Tucson basking in unseasonable warmth. I’m feeling good and I think – “who cares? I’ll write what I want to write, I’ll make it the best it can be. If they reject it – well it just wasn’t for them, but it won’t be because it was poorly written.”

And so it goes – one day discouraged, the next day motivated. Am I unusual? I doubt that!


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An Unusual Rejection

I recently received the kind of rejection that I always want to get – one that explains why the piece was rejected. but sometimes getting what you wish for is well… read on.

I submitted my story “Intelligent Design” to a well-known journal. I thought it might be a good fit because they’re not afraid to take things that are more than a little strange, and “intelligent Design” is, admittedly, not for everyone. It’s the story of a reknowned physicist, Gerry Landis, who befriends an alien, a Sirian to be precise. Sirians are millions of years ahead of humans technologically, and as Gerry finds out, they also have strong ties to us. The story takes some surprising twists, and I think the last of those twists was too much for the folks at this journal.¬† Here’s their rejection message:

Thanks for giving us the opportunity to consider this one. On the first read we thought it was really weird, funny, and appealing, but by the third round we were beginning to think this one read too much like a script treatment for American Dad.
Good luck placing it elsewhere.

First of all, I do appreciate being told WHY it was rejected. Thanks for that! But, really, I’d never even watched an episode of American Dad, though I did after receiving this. I’m still a little befuddled about how this story could be related to that very popular television program, and why reminding people of a popular show is a bad thing, but, hey, it’s not my magazine!

Anyway, now I’ve got another thing to worry about – being sure my stories aren’t going to remind editors of any of the hundreds of popular shows, past and present, out there! I’ve reworked the ending, the part I suspect reminded them of American Dad, and sent it off somewhere else. We’ll see…

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Filed under Submitting and Rejection

Submitting and Rejection

Anybody trying to become a published author, and whose name isn’t one immediately recognizable by the general public, has to go through the tiresome, degrading process of submitting his or her work and getting lots and lots of rejections, almost all of which provide absolutely no useful information.

How tired I am of “it doesn’t work for me” or “we can’t use it at this time” (the most common one). Tell me why, for cryin’ out loud!! But I can imagine the firestorm of invective that a tiny minority of fragile-ego writers would unloose if they were told what was wrong with their story. And I can imagine that editors have seen this phenomenon, and so the bland, information-free rejections continue.

What’s even worse is when it takes six or more months to get said rejection. If you’re going to sit on my piece, all the while proclaiming that you don’t want simultaneous submissions then please be at least a little bit prompt. This recently happened to me with a certain publication that’s been around for a long time and usually takes a lot less time than 235 days (as calculated by Duotrope). OK, I’ll say who it was – Analog. Why 235 days? At least give me something to work with if you’re going to tie up my story that long. A single sentence will do.

OK, enough ranting for one post.

We all know why this happens – because it can. The A-list publications get mountains of submissions every month. Most are awful (I’ve been told) but the good ones still add up to many times more than they can publish. They don’t want to discourage good writers, so they send a bland rejection. But why not do something like what Buzzy did for me. The rejection said it was a good story, but they just couldn’t fit it in. That tells me something, at least.

I’ll address the issue of what the A-list mags are actually publishing these days in a future post.

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