Perhaps it was fate, but no sooner had my Friday Thought posted last week than I heard back from the magazine that I’d sent my short story to. I guess you’re all dying to find out what they said aren’t you?
Wait – you’re not?
Well tough, I’m going to tell you anyway!
I have to admit that I was too scared to open the damn document that I had to send it to my best friend, confidant and bona fide super-writer, Kate Loveton. When I sent it to her I asked for only one thing: that she break the news to me gently, for I am a delicate flower and prone t0 wilting should the critique be harsh.
Kate wrote me back quickly, promising that she’d take a look at it and tell me the good/bad news the next day during our scheduled Skype session. Then she shot me another email telling me that I had to open the attachment and read right away, yet I was still stuttering around like the ugly shy kid at a school disco at the thought of finding out what a true writing professional thought of my work.
I guess I should get the bad news out of the way first.
My short story had not placed in the competition and the writer who critiqued my work listed a number of areas to be worked on in order to make the piece more likely to succeed in the future. I have to say that all of her points were valid, she offered advice on how certain areas could be tweaked in order for the story to appeal to a wider audience and highlighted a couple of areas where I fell into the classic pitfall of telling instead of showing.
Well, that’s all rather depressing you might think. My story was rejected and a number of flaws were highlighted in the process. It’s almost enough to make a writer want to pack up the tools of their trade and storm off in a fit of pique. But there was one very silver lining to this tale of clouds……
In her final summation, the writer who critiqued my work offered some wonderful words of encouragement. She advised me to put this first effort down to experience and to take heart from the fact that she felt I was ‘clearly talented’ (her words, not mine!), and that she would like to see more of my work in the future.
I have to admit that I was pretty damn happy with the overall result. Yes, I got rejected, but I also got a real confidence boost from an experienced writer and competition judge. I have to keep in my mind that it has been less than two years since I started writing and that, even though my work has flaws, someone who has been in the industry for many years thinks that I have the potential to do good things in the future.
Robert Cormier is right, I don’t have to get it right first time and it’s not the end of the world if I don’t. Also, I need to give a shout out to my fellow blogger, Mark Gardner who was correct when he said that getting rejected is all part of the learning process. It’s a temporary knock back that has increased my desire to get my writing published and I have set myself what I think is a realistic goal. I’m going to give myself the next twelve months to put into practice the advice I’ve been given in the critique, work on the areas where I am weakest as a writer and then try submitting another piece to the same magazine.
Twelve months might sound like a long time, but I don’t want to rush the process and if things happen quicker than that then that’s all well and good, but I’m just as happy to sit back and play the long game.
But if I were a brain surgeon, I think we’d all be in a world of trouble…….