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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Grist for the Mill » The Agony of it All!

   
Author Topic: The Agony of it All!
Crystal Stevens
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...Or at least it sure felt that way when I opened the envelope of my returned manuscript of my latest Writers of the Future entry. Yes, I know it happens. Yes, I know many of you have already been through this. Yes, I know I should just let it slide and go on.

BUT IT STILL HURTS!!!

My emotions ran the gauntlet when I read the form letter: Shock, confusion, frustration, anger, indignation... I'm sure you folks know the drill. My first entry was an HM. I thought, "Okay, I can do better." My second entry I really didn't think was as good. I was truly expecting a rejection with that one. Surprise! Another HM! All right! But this time...

My crits were more favorable that I'd gotten on my first two stories, and even I felt very positive about this one. A sure fire HM if not better, no doubt in my mind. No way was I expecting a flat out rejection. But this is the first time--I think--under the new entry judge. Could that be all it is? A different judge? I don't know, but I do have another story all ready to go. So back into the fray so-to-speak... I guess.

Hope none of you mind the rant, but I just felt the need of a kind ear from someone whom I know would understand where I'm coming from. And it felt good to get this all out. Thanks.

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History
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I've submitted to WOTF only four times and only stories that have been well-received by a number of Hatrackers--even one story that has gained praise from published authors and a magazine editor (it was just too long for her).

None received even a HM from WOTF, only form rejections.

I read and studied a couple of WOTF anthologies. I've concluded (rightly or wrongly):
1) shorter submissions are better
2) science fiction with alien cultures/world building is better
4) character conflict is key
5) no adult content (i.e. no sexual issues or reference to human sexuality, even indirectly; no non-traditional gender issues; no swear words).
6) Stories need be 'approrpiate' for high school and middle school levels.

For myself, I write mostly fantasy, even my 'children's stories'/fables are not for children, and I almost exclusively write in the novelette length of 10-17K.

I gave it some thought and finally wrote a (mostly) sf/alternate history story for WOTF Q1 2013 with the knowledge that Dave Wolverton/Farland is now the WOTF editor. I avoided all the 'no-nos' I perceived from my study of the WOTF anthologies and in self-assessment of my past rejections--except one: my current submission is still a novelette.

I am prepared for another rejection.

While I have been amazed at the lack of slushpile reader perception of the excellence of my submitted stories these past few years, I've satisfied myself with the knowledge that most of these individual are younger than many of my shirts and ties and the majority of the great sf/fantasy literature. It must be they simply have yet to mature to appreciate my brilliance. [Wink]

I must admit I feel I mostly write for a population who wears progressive lenses, have shortening attention spans (or outright Alzheimer's), or have already passed on. There's a market for me...the dead. I hear they're an ever-growing segment of the population. They could be my niche market! I wouldn't have to worry about any negative reviews--hmm, no reviews at all in fact. And forget about fan mail (or if I received one. I'm running for the hills with my hands clasping my brainpan).

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob (who really should get back to work)

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Crystal Stevens
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Thanks for the reply, History. I just went back and read my original post and couldn't believe how juvenile it sounds. Not at all how I intended it to be. Of course we all get rejections. After all we're writers. But this time it caught me totally off guard. Guess a little humility is good for the soul... in all of us.
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History
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No problemo.

Hey, at least you achieved a HM.

I haven't even achieved that yet, just rejections--a.k.a. dishonorable discharges.

(I wish I could cure these with a written prescription as easily as I do others. [Wink] )

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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MAP
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Crystal,

I understand how frustrated you feel. We want to feel as if we are growing as writers, and when you got a HM before and then got nothing this round, I can see how that feels like step backwards. But it's not. Not every story appeals to every editor/reader. Keep at it. [Smile]

@History, I like your analysis of the WOTF winners, very helpful. [Smile]

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LDWriter2
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I have felt the same way at times even though you have a better percentage than I do.

David seems a tougher editor with probably different tastes.

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Robert Nowall
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You get used to it...that is, I suppose you do, but with me, every time I send something out I think I've sold it right up until I see the big manila envelope.
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Crystal Stevens
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I got to thinking about the high school/middle school thing and think I know why I got the rejection. Though it's tastfully done, there is nudity in the story. I'm betting that's it, but considering the story (the Charlie & Sam one for those who will recognize it), I would've been hard pressed to write it any other way.
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LDWriter2
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Somewhat used to it.

There are times I just shrug and send out the next one but every now and then for someone reason a rejection hits harder than other times. Sometimes it is like with Crystal the crits are better than usual, sometimes I feel better about a story, but other times I don't know, the emotions just seem to build up and get released at one time.

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LDWriter2
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A PS here,


I just finished a story--just needs a spell and proofreader check--that I feel that way about. It should be good writing at the very least.


Most probably isn't though my feelings are never right, even though once or twice I was close.

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Robert Nowall
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Of course, I belatedly realize that everything I wrote and sent in before the early 1990s was deservedly rejected...I'm of two minds about nearly everything after that...
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