When I first started writing, I was eager for any sign that my work was bubbling up out of the slush pile, that it was catching someone’s interest, that it didn’t suck, that I should keep working.
Coming from a background in academia, I’m pretty inured to rejection and comfortable with the concept of perseverance. So, I’m not the type to dwell on the negative, but to learn from it and move forward. I’ve continued to try to improve, seeking out workshops and the perspectives of others. I’ve written as much and as often as I can. I’ve listened to feedback and instruction.
And it’s paid off. I’ve improved. The stories I tell are more interesting now than they were a few years ago and I’m doing a better job telling them.
In the last few months, I’ve started getting personalized short story rejections. The kind that include several paragraphs discussing what worked and didn’t. The kind that say ‘we loved x, y, and z, but ultimately decided to pass’ or ‘your story made our final round but, much as we enjoyed it, we chose something else’.
I’ve gone from hearing a resounding silence in response to my novel queries to getting partial requests and full requests. My writing groups are giving me positive feedback on current projects. It’s all heading in the right direction and I have no intention of giving up now — not when I feel like I’m actually starting to get so close.
But, damn. You know, “I loved this, but no thanks” is still no. And “almost” isn’t yes.
I know I have it in me to succeed. Frankly, even if I were terrible at it, I’d still keep writing because I love the crazy, maddening, puzzling art of it. And I know that beyond the land of “yes” lies more “no” and plenty of “almost”. I get that. Hell, I published my first short story over a year ago. So, yeah. I get it. But god do I want to hear another YES sometime soon.
For now, though, I’m going to remind myself that a few years ago I’d have been over the moon to have achieved “almost”. I choose to keep my spirits up, my projects moving forward, and my fingers crossed for a little good fortune.