Friday, 24 July 2009

Couple of rejections

Rejections, nice and fast, for pieces written during the retreat - from Smokelong Quarterly and Pank. Both with nice notes from the editors, Randall Brown at Smokelong and anon at Pank. The latter was particularly helpful, suggesting places where the piece wasn't working as well as it might and asking for more work in due course.
I am finding it tough not sending work out fequently now that the 'novel' takes up most of my time... I'm quite a junkie for feedback from submissions!


Rachel Fenton said...

Not sure how I got here, but happy accident! Do you worry more about rejections since getting work published than you did before, or is it just a drag generally?

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hi Rachel, welcome to my humble blog!

And no, on the contrary. It may seem mad, but I still seek them. It reminds me that I am not perfect, that I have to keep trying, that being rejected is part of creating anything and sending it out. That I am a writer!

Worry about them? Not in the slightest. I used to, when I started out, and I used to think 'just because Magazine x didn't want my stuff, that piece was bad.'

Not the case, necessarily. Now I've worked as an editor myself, and still do... and I know that a piece can be rejected for loads of reasons.

The piece may not 'fit' the style and content of that issue.
It may not be quite right for the editor's own preferences.
It may contain too many flaws.
It may be totally wrong for that be the wrong genre, length, not fitting a published 'theme'. Lots of things.

I'm writing a novel now, and have been focussing on that for a while, so having something smaller to send out is a rarity. But it is great to have a few smaller pieces following a writing retreat a week ago.

So - I listened to the superb and generous feedback from the editor at Pank, (it reflected two things I kind of felt myself!) and revised a piece this morning. And have sent them both back out again, immediately.

Hope that helps!

Tania Hershman said...

Good on ya for sending stuff out so swiftly, and to the editors of PANK and Smokelong for responding so quickly. I am just working on a guest blog post for The Short Review in which Chris Beckett discusses his relationship with the SF magazine Interzone and how much their constructive rejections of his stories in the early days really spurred him on - it can make so much difference, eh? Best of luck to those stories you sent winging back out there.

Lauri Kubuitsile said...

Interesting how you think about rejections, Vanessa, and it is indeed true that the reasons for rejection are myriad. But I differ from you- I don't seek rejections to varify that I'm not perfect. I know I'm not but I'd like to keep that a secret if at all possible.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Thanks T.
Tis a funny thing, isnt it. Bouncing the things straight back out is a reflex now. I remember the sixteen rejections it took to get one story picked up. A decent story, which ended up somewhere really lovely, GUD. Not easy to get accepted there at all.

Mind you, back to the original question - there are lots of times that I would not be quite so upbeat about rejections - for example, if I had taken six years over the novel, and the agent said 'um... not what I'm looking for...' Now that would be a tad depressing. But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hi Lauri, (your post just arrived... weird) Ah but we've all met those who believe they are 100% perfect writers, havent we! I know I'm not. But every other day I wake up thinking I'm a genius and need to be reminded that no way am I! But dont tell anyone that.

Gay Degani said...

Thanks for sharing this, Vanessa.

I keep forgetting that it's possible for anyone at your success level to get a "no." I seem to put you and Tania and a few others folks I read about around the net in that "I want to be them" place having all the wonderful pieces you write and receive recognition for. It's important, though, to remember we all must continue to grow and to get better at what we do.

You two represent the place I aim for, but I know you guys aren't content.

You are aiming for the next stage, whatever that is for you. And no one, or almost no one, gets that automatic ok. Except maybe Stephen King and Cormac McCarthy.

So thank you for your post today. Being willing to send postcards of the landscape from up the road to those of us just getting on the road is one of the many reasons why you have fans.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hi Gay, thanks for the lovely message.

And yep, not that long ago I would have thought to have a book out there with a lovely press like Salt, would be 'it'. Whatever'it' is!

The truth is quite different. And when I started this blog I swore that I would say things as they are, not gloss things... so here you go.

Having a collection out there is terrific. I got the contract/agreement from Salt in Feb 2007 and the book came out in March a year later. So, all the pieces were written at least two years ago. They did OK for me, at comps and so on ... and one got me an agent and became the seed of the thing (??novel??!) I've been working on ever since.

But but but the collection represents maybe 10% of the stuff I wrote up until that point. The rest is of variable quality... from Ok down to yeowch!

And just cos I could dig up some decent work for the collection does not mean for one instant that I am not capable of writing plenty of 'yeowch!' still.

Actually, I think it is important to write 'yeowch!'. I think we need to allow ourselves to do so. Cos if we expect to write well every time we sit down with a pen or with a laptop, sooner or later we will wake up and be veeeeery disappointed.

So let's raise a glass of fizz to writing yeowch!. It's only when we do that that remarkable things happen. And what we thought was yeowch! twists itself into something magical.

Onwards n upwards!