This week started out with yet another rejection to a literary journal. By now, I’ve grown accostomed to it and hardly felt the sting. And what was also a “light at the end of the tunnel” was the fact that this was a personal rejection.
A personal rejection marks a place in a writer’s career where you’re going from unpublishable garbage, to better garbage that could be publishable with some further tweaks and development. The editor is a busy, busy person. They don’t have luxury to dole out comments to every submission. So when they do, you know they found something they liked worthy enough to spend their limited time on explaining why they’re rejecting it!
To add to my optimism, the rejection included the words “very well written,” so suffice it to say, I felt myself pretty nifty and going in the right direction.
Not 10 minutes later… I get my first acceptance for a different story I’d submitted four months ago. What? Do my eyes deceive me?
I read the email five more times to be sure.
Yes! It’s true!
I’m officially going to be a paid author when my story is published in Bards & Sages Quarterly July edition. I’ll be sure to post a link to the free version in July for your reading enjoyment.
Now, I’m starting on the first stepping stone as a professional writer. This is a 500 word story paid at the semi-pro rate of 2 cents a word. Obviously, I’m not driving off in a Tesla anytime soon, but it’s not about money. It’s about building credentials and making connections. This is the first real step to carve out a place in the literary world and I couldn’t be more excited.
So, naturally, the first thing I do is tell friends, both writerly and regular, and family.
I think the only group which can understand the monumental step I’ve taken are my writerly friends. The true friends were excited and told me congratulations. They know how big a deal this is and how difficult it is to make that step from aspiring author to published author.
The not so good friends? They either ignored my excited messages or jokingly said “I hate you,” which sounded pretty convincing. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Writers are competitive people.
What about regular friends and family? Sure, they know how hard I’ve been working and are excited for me. But it’s natural they judge the level of achievement by the amount of dollars. 10$ is what I spent on lunch, and people don’t expect that as an impressive payout for a piece of published fiction. It’s not much, but given the fact that this is only 500 words and I have no other previous publishing experience for the editor to work with, I can’t complain. And like I said, it’s about credentials which can’t be bought, not money. But still, I know I won’t get true respect until I have numbers regular people can relate to as “successful.”
So my first publication has been full of expected and unexpected feelings. And if these are writer problems, I’m glad to have them.
My advice to aspiring writers is to not be afraid to start small. I’m querying two novels, so it’s not like I don’t have the work to publish. But it’s far more difficult to sell 80,000 words than 500. It’s also a lot easier to polish a small snippet of work for publication and there are plenty of places to submit. And now that I’ve got my foot in the door, I can tack on the sparkly “traditional publication” credit to my bio. That, my friend, is golden! And exactly why I’ve started writing flash fiction. I’m excited to begin building my credentials in the professional market, and I’m thrilled to have all of you readers with me during these baby steps of my journey. You keep me motivated and believing in myself everyday. Thank you, and happy writing!