(Open letter to occasional blog commenter 'Mimi' who is a well published writer, but who dislikes the honesty of this blog.)
I hope you have finished your breakfast. You are just not going to like this post, and I figured it might put you off your Wheatie-wallops. Every day should start with something good, yes?
Like all 47 days on which a writing friend of mine submitted the same story. And all 47 days she opened the post to find rejection after rejection on her doormat. (Or mailbox. This is in the US.)
Oh dear, you'd have probably said, after two, maybe three rejections. And binned it. Not this lady. This piece of work 'worked' It was original stuff. Well written. So what was going on?
It was TOO GOOD.
I have often been told that some work is just too good for some competitions, some markets. And because the readers are only ever dealing in lower-grade stuff, they just don't SEE the quality. It's over their heads. I'm afraid we are back to Lower Burblingon on Twiddle Very Important Literary Competition here, (finally judged, as ever, by that friend of Mimi's, that unpublished doggerel writer - lovely person though she be -)
I have often been TOLD that work can be too good, by people who are far more experienced than I... but now I have a perfect example to illustrate it.
You see this writing friend really did have a story rejected FORTY SEVEN times. Wow. My record is sixteen.
But she believed in it enough to carry on submitting. In fact, she sent it out scattergun in the end, and didn't keep records. I can imagine her picking up yet another envelope...
"Oh so I sent it there, did I? Another reject...." and out it would go again.
Until the day she got home from work and found that she'd had a phonecall.
And that phonecall was from the The National Endowment of the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship organisers. One of the places the story had been sent, and forgotten about.
Her story had won, and the prize was worth ...wait for it... $20,000. (That's twenty thousand dollars, Mimi, in case your glasses have gone missing.)
The story was later selected for inclusion in American Fiction: The Best Unpublished Short Stories by Emerging Writers, edited by Joyce Carol Oates.
This all happened a while back. But it illustrates the point. Forty seven editors, readers, judges turned it down because it 'wasn't good enough'.
The point of this post. Believe in yourself, believe in your work. Of course, you have to learn to write well first (!) but sometimes you just KNOW something is good. Stick with it.