I received a rejection letter from The Pedestal Magazine for my story "Knights of the Road" today.
All right. Let's go ahead and get this out of the way: I know rejections are only a numbers game. I know the more rejections I get the closer I come to having another short published. I know my personal writing hero, Stephen King, had a nail above his desk that he put hundreds of rejection slips on, so many that it made the spike fall off the wall at one point from the weight. I know it's something we all have to deal with. I even wrote a blog entry a few weeks ago, about riding the rejection train.
But knowing all these things doesn't make that rejection letter any easier to read. "We don't want your stuff", regardless of how you phrase it, is never fun to hear. When I saw the email in my inbox this afternoon from The Pedestal Magazine, I had that little rush of excitement flutter through my midsection. I summoned positive thoughts. I visualized success. And then I clicked on the email, and read what it had to say.
Clunk. Another "no thanks" to add to my pile.
So now, as I did back at the beginning of February, I'm using the rejection to bolster my confidence as best I can. I went back over the story, polished it and changed it again. I tightened the action, took out vagueness, and made it a lot punchier (at least, in my opinion). When I was done with it, I was a lot happier with the end result. I then, before I lost my courage, sent it to Weird Tales, one of the last holy grails of dark fiction and fantasy publication.
I'm starting to wonder if short stories are just not my forte. Now that I've been writing my novel for several months, I've realized that I'm a long-distance writer... I'm much better in extended formats, that allow me to develop characters and plot and tension in my own time. Short stories can be limiting, because you have to show only small portions of those things... and I've never been one for small portions. Looking over my rejection list (which keeps growing longer and longer), I can't help but feel a little discouraged. I know my shorts are good... so why can't I move them in a market?
But I won't give up. I have to get back on the horse, no matter how many times it throws me. Sooner or later I will have that bitch tamed. You can count on it.