Ever since I started writing again (this was about five years ago) I dreamt of creating some of the most fantastic speculative fiction anyone will ever read. And of course like most dreams, this one had a sudden, tragic death.
I like writing short stories. I’ve started on at least three stories that will someday hopefully become “books”, but I wasn’t able to muster enough discipline to see them through. So instead of completely giving up at my foolish dream, I started to write short stories. As the name suggests, I probably would actually finish them and get them published sooner, right?
I write stories that I want to read. This means they would always have an element of fantasy, or science fiction, or horror, or any combination of these three. Stories with these elements are categorized under the broadly defined “speculative fiction” genre. And boy, was I thrilled to find out there’s actually a market for it! And I can submit online!
You see, this was a big thing for a girl who lived in the Philippines. First, there wasn’t really a market for spec-fic short stories in my country. It just doesn’t sell. Let’s not confuse this with spec-fic novels, they actually were and still are consumed pretty well by Filipinos (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, other bestselling YA spec-fic book, you name it–it sells). Problem is, these books were all written by foreigners. Why would there be a publisher of speculative fiction in the Philippines when there are not enough writers?
Second, I was thrilled I could submit online because imagine the cost of sending a manuscript internationally. Yikes.
Sure enough, I submitted my very first completed science fiction short story to Clarkesworld Magazine back on January 2013. I got my first rejection two days after. It wasn’t a personal letter–pssh,no–it was one of those standard templates they sent to most people where they just edit out the name and the story title, saying your story is not right for them and good luck submitting it elsewhere.
Boy, you should have seen how I cried…(I laugh now thinking how ridiculous I must have looked. But it wasn’t so funny at the time.)
Now I’ve made a bit of a distance from that. Instead of one, I now have forty-seven official rejections in my mental trophy room. And I’m still waiting to hear from a couple of places I submitted to as of this time, while writing this in my bathroom.
Hey, everyone poops. Deal with it!!!
To some forty-seven may be a lot. I am not proud of it though. I wish it could have been more. I could have written more and submitted more in a span of over four years. But I wasn’t able to because of numerous–both short and long–periods of depression and discouragement where I didn’t write anything at all.
Recently, after getting a rejection for what I thought was one of the best stories I wrote, I basically looked like this:
As you may have expertly deduced, I do not have much of a thick hide at all.
Especially for somebody who wants to be a published writer.
I mean, if we think about it logically, these magazine editors receive hundreds, if not thousands, of submissions everyday. Less than 2% (and I’m being generous, I think) of these people will even be accepted. So how could a logical person expect these editors to write detailed rejections to those 98% and still be able to eat and chill and Netflix and breathe, right?
Only if you’re a thin-skinned member of the 98%, maybe.
I can’t promise to never dwell in these self-deprecating moments of
crying bawling depression after one particular rejection any longer. After all, I haven’t fully developed yet my Armor of Thick-Idon’tgiveaboogerwhatyouthink-Hide that I need in this quest for publication.
But I’m getting there.
I’m just lucky I have a life partner who keeps egging me on, stubbornly talking me out of giving up. Without him I probably would have already, who knows. Whenever I look at him, I’d always know what matters more. Even if I don’t get professionally published ever, I’d still have one person who’ll read my stories and say “Ha, I have such a talented wife!” (That’s what he says but who knows what he actually thinks. Doesn’t matter. AS LONG AS YOU KEEP SAYING IT AND I KNOW YOU’RE READING THIS!).
So yes, this is me welcoming rejection. My dream has died multiple times and still came back to life. I guess if there’s one thing in life that should be stubborn, it should be our dreams, right? Surely, one good egg will come along if I just keep on writing and improving, right?