Despite a serious fight with my computer, I got a lot done this weekend! My critique group reviewed chapters 10-11, I finished my pre-revision edit for chapter 12, and I’ve done content editing for chapter 13 & 1/2 of chapter 14. I still have lots of daylight left, so I’m hoping to finish pre-revision for chapter 13 tonight.
I also received my second rejection this week for “Singularity Fringe,” my cyberpunk short story. I have my next market picked out, but since internet has been a scarce resource recently, I have not actually submitted the story yet.
Submitting is an odd process. Send something out, try to forget about it, receive rejection letter (or e-mail), repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I’ve submitted occasionally in the past, but never seriously. So I’m trying to get the process down for when I’m ready with King’s Mark (hopefully in the fall). I can’t imagine what it will be like submitting something that I’ve poured so much into; I suppose it will be like what I’m doing with “Singularity Fringe,” only multiplied by infinity.
You see, I wrote the story on a whim. I decided to experiment and “Singularity Fringe” is what came out of that. Not only is it in first person (not my preferred viewpoint), it is essentially a dystopian action story (not my usual milieu). I wanted to see how much characterization I could do for a team of people without ever “telling” the reader about them – only “showing.” I’m a discovery writer, so I plotted the entire thing with an actual outline, complete with character development, plot, and world reveals. I like clear, transparent prose, so I kept that. Otherwise, it is completely different from what I usually write. I workshopped it, and after input from my group, I think it is pretty good. But it is very different.
Like all my work, it is still a fruit of my creativity, and thus important to me. But trying to get “Singularity Fringe” published is still part of the experiment. I’m told you should never sit on a story, always submit it. So I am.
What I’m getting to is that although I’ve been prepared for rejection, and I’m not particularly fussed about being rejected by a couple markets (especially for this story), I still had that uncertain moment when I saw the second rejection. I opened up the story and began to read it, looking for what is wrong with it. I love listening to short story podcasts (a list of my favorites will follow this post), and this weekend I found myself deconstructing the story I’m supposed to be enjoying, trying to find that magic that I could add to my own story.
This is foolishness. I wrote a story, workshopped it, and polished it. I can criticize it until the cows come home, but all I will be doing is destroying the integrity of the piece and my peace of mind. Unless an editor reads it and has the time to share what their professional eye sees or doesn’t see in my story, I probably won’t figure it out. Maybe someday, when distance and practice makes me a better writer and better judge of my work, I might see what is wrong with it. Or maybe there is nothing wrong with it, but the editor just didn’t like it. Or there were some extremely fantastic stories and names it was competing with (very likely).
The point is, if I could figure out what is missing, I would have fixed it before sending it out. I’m not afraid of rewriting things. I take every piece of criticism seriously, even if I end up disagreeing with it. I want to send out the best stuff I can. So at this point, resubmitting is the only thing I can do. There is no new information on the table (and no recourse to get new information). I’ve got as solid a story as I can create. Time to move on. Keep submitting, maybe I’ll get lucky and strike an editor the right way. In the meantime, I’ve got work to do!