I planned to share a flash fiction piece this week; however, I received some exciting news that I really can’t wait to share with all of you, and out of it there’s also a topic I thought I’d touch on.
First of all, the news. My novelette, “Alger’s Dimension” has been accepted by Disturbed Digest. This is a huge deal for me, I’m as excited as the first piece I had accepted to a literary magazine. Why? Because this is the first piece I’ve had accepted in one of the main genres I write in: horror.
Now this story has been on quite the journey, and I thought I’d tell you about it, because it’s a story about perseverance, which is so important to this industry.
The first time I submitted “Alger’s Dimension” was back in April of 2015. Yes, that’s right. I didn’t write the wrong year. I actually began writing the story back in May of 2014. The original piece was about 10,600 words. It only took me a month or two to write, and the next nine to ten months to edit.
When it was as good as I thought it was going to get, I sent it out to what I later found out is one of the most challenging sci-fi magazines to get published in. Part of the problem with placing my story has been finding a good magazine to put it in. It’s a horror story with a hint of sci-fi in it, which makes it difficult to pitch to magazines looking for hard sci-fi, and difficult to fit in horror magazines that aren’t interested in sci-fi. The length was also a hurdle. The story, as you may have guessed was rejected. Although I received a nice personal comment from the editor who said, “I thought there was really good writing here even if the story didn’t win me over.”
Instead of sending it back out to another magazine, I spent the next year editing it again. I found an amazing book on editing manuscripts (more on that book in a future post) and decided to use the tips to tackle “Alger’s Dimension.” I completely rewrote the beginning, and then spent a considerable amount of time cutting words. By the end, I’d cut 2,000 words from the piece. And seriously, they were almost exclusively one word at a time, one word here, one word there.
By the time I finished, I knew the story was a lot stronger. But finding a market for a novelette in the horror genre is still tricky. Almost a year to the day after I sent out “Alger’s Dimension” the first time, I sent out the new version. And it’s been rejected six more times without a single personal comment about it.
This is the journey I anticipate going through when I finish my novel. Long days and nights editing, culminating in more time than I spent writing the first draft, followed by a slew of rejections. But here’s the thing, editors and literary agents base their decisions off of several things besides whether the story is well-written and a good story overall. They have to consider the market, what is popular right now. The feel of their publication, or in the case of an agent, does the manuscript have the feel that publishers they work with are looking for.
In the end, a rejection isn’t a commentary on the quality of the piece, it has to do with whether they feel it is the right fit. So as a writer, you have to keep trying until you find the right place for your work.
The comment I received from the editor at Disturbed Digest made the wait well worth it too. He commented: “Very well written. A bit Lovecraftian, too.”
One final bit about this piece, it’s coming out in print, which I love that I’ll have a hard copy of the first horror piece I’ve had published.
It will be a while before you’ll have a chance to read the piece. It comes out in December 2017, and I’ll post a reminder.
Thanks for reading and sharing my journey. If you have a tale of perseverance or a struggle with rejection, I’d love to hear your story. Post in the comments below. Feel free to discuss something other than these topics as well.