So last week I got a rejection from an anthology market. The rejection wasn’t that unexpected–while my story fit the theme, it did so just barely, as if seeing it from the corner of its eye. Still, it disappointed me. I’d submitted a story I’ve been noodling with for several years, and I liked this draft a lot. The editor said I could rewrite it to better fit the theme and resubmit, or I could submit a different story if I wished. I ran it past one of my writing groups and while they gave me great advice on how to make this version better, they basically said to not change it to much to fit the theme. Which means I’ll probably be writing another story.
There are several points I want to make about this whole exchange that I think highlights my growth as an author.
1. While I was disappointed by the rejection, it didn’t define me or my writing. The editor liked the story–she said so, and I believe her–but it didn’t fit her needs. I didn’t feel a need to look into the deeper meaning behind her words. I didn’t crave her validation. I didn’t have the desire to immediately rip apart my story and make it something, anything, that this editor wanted. I didn’t have the “please please like me” feelings running through the back of my head. This is probably because …
2. I knew what story I wanted to tell. I knew I had gotten pretty damn close with this draft. Is it perfect? No. But it’s way better than the story I wrote eight years ago. It’s better than the attempt from two years ago. Will I be able to write it better in five years? Probably. At least, I hope so. But you know what? I told the story I wanted to tell in an effective way.
3. Points 1 and 2 are probably helped by the fact that this story is a deeply personal, semi-autobiographical one. It’s as close to non-fiction as I could get but still call it fiction (the impeding asteroid that will hit Earth helps with that). Still, it’s a mark of my growth as a writer that point 3 didn’t supercede points 1 and 2, if that makes any sense at all.