Kage Baker did not read her own correspondence. Not the first time, anyway. She had me open and read it, unless she was very sure of the news. And if she had a story out for consideration, no power on earth could get her to read it first.
If I was gone for the weekend – which I sometimes was, doing Faires after she had retired – she’d wait. Her patience could be inhuman. But that was because she knew how badly it might derail her, if the news was bad. A bad review could paralyze her for days. A rejection might not, but it would plunge her for at least a few hours into the Slough of Despond, from which the arduous path to freedom might be attained only through pirate-infested seas* and glassy hills.**
While I have a potential buffer – Kimberly would be glad to assume this protective pre-sorting for me – I’m too used to opening the email now. So when I saw that the publication to which I had dispatched my super speedy flash fiction story had responded – I opened it.
Of course, they said NO. With a form letter. With the requisite apology that the form letter was used because they just couldn’t respond personally to every one. And it could have been much worse, you know – in their submission guidelines, they sternly promised to blacklist any author who sent them a story that was too long. So I knew they were badass strict from the get-go.
I am thus not despairing. Disappointed, yes. Mildly offended, slightly depressed, inclined to think I will never darken their pompous, arrogant, bullying, sponsor-funded door AGAIN EVER IN MY LIFE … but not depressed. No.
Ahem. That’s got the black humours out of my system, I think.
Besides, the contracts from the publishing house of Montadori, which I had feared were lost in the shit storm of changing agents, arrived today from Italy. And will go promptly to my new agents, and so a European printing of Kage’s Company series that I had feared would never happen is on its way.
Also, suddenly “The Teddy Bear Squad” is absolutely flying over the ground, doing jetes and aires and double axels. I’ve been charged up by my pretty new jewelry and by the enormous rush of writing and submitting that little story: not even the (almost) inevitable rejection can short-circuit me for long. Red sprites and blue jets are filling the air over my head, my silicon CPAP mask will be in definite jeopardy tonight from the rampaging current of my brain.
Also, a biology team at Machu Picchu, of all places, has released a report documenting the discovery of 9 new frogs, a lizard, an earless water mouse (the others we know of all have ears) and a new variety of arboreal chinchilla that was previously known only from fossils: but is alive and well and adorable. http://goo.gl/IKgL5S
Also, the heroic Cassini probe is readying itself for its Grande Finale later this year. It will dive over, under and through the rings of Saturn, sending us yet more amazing close-ups of the gaudiest planetary grouping int he Solar System. And then it will dive into the bosom of Time or Saturn, which is much the same thing – to prevent our Terran microbes from ever infesting Enceladus or Titan (where independent life may exist) from its remains.
Also, the Kepler telescope is out of emergency mode, and is awake and down-linking with Earth. So the aliens gave it back, which might be why we’re keeping our mitts and microbes off of Titan, Enceladus and (presumably) Europa …
So it’s a good day. A colourful day. A day packed jam-full of glories and amazements and delights, like unto the pleasaunce of a queen.
I’m gonna go rewrite a story now. The pot may have boiled over, but the heat is still on.
* With Zombie Pirates galore
* The Blue Fairy Book
Rejection emails are part of being a writer, a shitty part, but so it goes. Someone one told me that Isaac Asimov got hundreds of them before he said screw it and started his own magazine. Stephen King got some snippy ones that are very funny in hindsight.
I read somewhere that Moby Dick was rejected lots of times, with one editor opining that it would be a better book if Ahab was obsessed with a woman instead of a whale.
Cheer up! There are many more fish in the sea. Horror Tree posts weekly open submission calls that aren’t just for horror, but for fantasy and spec fic, too. It’s easier to submit to one of those because they usually tell you out front exactly what they’ve looking for instead of nattering about “characters we’ll fall in love it” and “language that makes us scream with joy and roll around on the ground like possessed chickens,” or whatever silly way they like to put it. I suspect that most of them couldn’t write a decent story if their lives depended on it, but they studied the art of writing in college and memorized the rules so they think they know how it should be done.
Les Weil at The Flash Fiction Press is a smart guy who knows his stuff. You might consider sending your story there, or to T. Gene Davis, another smart guy who knows his stuff.
My friend Daniel White over at Thinkerbeat is putting together some anthologies that you might be interested in, including a sci fi one that’s looking for things in the 15,000 to 30,000-word range.
Thank you for all the wonderful and practical ideas!