is due August first, and I currently have, um, well, less than 1,500 words of it, it is highly unlikely that I'm going to get many short stories written this year. Which makes me sad. Writing novels is like Apple Charlotte--it's incredibly complicated and frustrating and time consuming (and, no, I do not make my own Apple Charlotte, I gang up with my father to make my mother do it), but omg you could wallow in the taste and the texture and the pure orgasmic nirvana of it for, like, weeks
, and it's even BETTER the next morning (notice, please that I am conflating process and product here in the most shamelessly brazen way). Short stories, on the other hand, are like pomegranate seeds. You have to work to get them out of the matrix of pith, and then they're tart and odd and crunch between your teeth and you immediately want another one.
I doubt I'll go completely cold turkey off short stories, but I'm not committing to anything.
Which makes this a handy moment to talk about stats, again.buymeaclue
has a lovely, thoughtful, level-headed post
about rejection letters, to which I'd like to add the following:
It's not just you.
You are not, as Tyler Durden says, a beautiful or unique snowflake. All around you are writers getting rejection letters and presenting the full gamut of responses, from tears to fury. (Yes, I have cried
over a rejection letter. Yes, I have been infuriated by a rejection letter.) And it gets easier, the more you do it, but the process really doesn't change all that much.
As for example, I made my thirtieth short-form sale last night, on a story that racked up twenty-eight rejections in previous incarnations, and then got sat on for almost two years while I figured out what the fuck I thought I was doing. And for those thirty sales (one of which was a solicited novella, and one of which was a co-sale with matociquala
for which I don't actually have the stats), I got two hundred thirteen rejections. Fifty-four of which are on the eight stories still circulating from editor to editor.
You should be sensing a theme here.
I'm obstinate as a mule.
Being a successful short story writer (and I'm not sure, btw, that I'd necessarily describe myself as all that "successful") requires both patience and fortitude. And if it isn't going to kill you, it also requires a professional attitude. Your job is to write the stories to the best of your ability and send them out. The editor's job is to decide whether or not she wants to publish the story. Your further job, if he decides no, is to accept it and move on: send the story out again. Remember that you are, in fact, asking the editor to give you money for the story. Submitting a story is not like asking someone out on a date. Getting a rejection letter is not like having your crush-object refuse to go to the prom with you.
Wrong metaphor. Choose again.
It's a hard thing to try to do. But I think it really does help to remember that you aren't alone, that the editor who is rejecting your story is also rejecting tens or dozens or scores or hundreds of other stories. It's not personal, and you only make it worse for everyone, especially yourself, if you treat it as if it is.
Meanwhile, I have a novel to bake.