Don’t get me wrong, I really like “acceptance” acceptances. But I’ve come to develop quite an appreciation for the “near miss” rejections as well. This is a species with which you may be familiar, wherein the publisher tells you that you didn’t make it, but were a semi-finalist, they were strongly impressed, etc. Often accompanied by the optional encouragement to submit again.
My latest brush with near-greatness was a few days ago, when the Editor of New Millennium Writings wrote to tell me that my short story “small disasters” was a semi-finalist for their annual fiction award.
Early on in my submission life, I sometimes found these “near misses” to be bitterly disappointing. But these days I actually find them to be tremendously encouraging. I think of them as being what the design people call a “proof of concept”- even if this particular prototype didn’t get off the ground, it’s a demonstration that you’re on the right track. Maybe the next thing I submit will make it, or this same thing, but with another publisher…
The other thing that this kind of rejection can also show you is where your trend is. As a data analyst in my non-writing life, I have a healthy respect for general trend over specific data point. That is, in general, if you’re getting a steady stream of these kinds of responses, it’s a good sign for where your trend is headed. So how’s my trend? In addition to the notice from New Millennium Writings, over the past twelve months, I have:
- Been a semi-finalist for Summer Literary Seminars 2015 Literary Contest (also for “small disasters”- other publishers take note!)
- Had Big Truths let me know that my personal essay “Smells Like Middle-aged Reverie” was strongly considered for their Music Anthology.
- Heard from Synaesthesia Magazine that, while they didn’t accept my short story “Somebody would have to clean this shit up” for a themed issue, they felt it was very strong and encouraged me to submit again.
- Been told by Sundog Lit that while they didn’t feel my story “A Weird Ending That Begins Again” was right for them, they found it to be entertaining and well-written, and would like to see more of my work.
- Learned from Latchkey Tales that my story “The Peculiar Mental Twist Already Acquired” made their short list.
- Had “A Weird Ending That Begins Again” short-listed for the 2015 Bosque Fiction Prize.
- Received encouraging feedback from PopMatters on “Smells Like Middle-aged Reverie”, saying that while it was a little too personal for them, it worked and could be good for another publisher.
Submission can be a long, grueling, lonely trek through a low-feedback wilderness. These kinds of notices really help provide fuel for the journey. So thank you to all the publishers mentioned above, and much love and encouragement to my fellow writers to keep going!