Monday, November 29, 2010

Put on your big girl panties and deal with it.

Or: not everyone will always like you.

As some of you might know, in addition to all my other spread-myself-too-thin hobbies, I am constantly writing and submitting my work for publishing.

Usually, I get a standard form rejection letter that looks a little bit like this:

Alison, Thank you for your fiction submission to [magazine title]. Regretfully, we must pass but all the best with it.

Today, I got my very first personal rejection letter. At first, I was excited. Personal letters are rare, but valuable.

But then I saw what they had to say:

The first sentence doesn't need to be there. Make sure the message is stated without actually stating it.

Okay, that's fine. I actually had debated that myself and decided to leave it in. In the future, I'll remove it. Easy.

I'm afraid this piece came off entirely too preachy. There really isn't any character progression or personal change. Nothing that happens with the characters affects any change in any form. The only change or progress is a single blade of grass that the characters have nothing to do with bringing about.

Hmm. I didn't intend for there to be any character progression or personal change, so...I guess that's okay. But the blade of grass is a sign that even in the bleakest of times, things can get better. I need to work on getting that point across I suppose.

I'm all for environmental care and stories that encourage responsibility in our world, but this one is not well done. It is more of a diatribe than a story.

Eeek, "not well done". And I'll admit I had to look up "diatribe", but here it is:


Noun: A forceful and bitter verbal attack against someone or something.

Err...okay, so maybe I came off kind of strong? I guess?

But here's the worst:

The story is a heavy lecture of the evils of our cancer-causing world. No attempt to even veil the message. Granny dies of cancer from our dirty world and wanton, wasteful ways. Sentimental, preachy, awful.

Awful! Really? Awful?

I'm too close to this, maybe. My grandmother DID die of cancer, so I may be rightfully sentimental...but who knows what really caused it? I'm making assumptions here that we're killing our planet. And no, I didn't make any attempt to veil the message...because the message was the point.

Argh. To be fair, I wrote this piece in 2000, and haven't really given it much of a second look since then. My creative writing teacher at the time suggested that I submit it, and ten years later I remembered that and tried to submit it.

I'm not dismissing what they had to say by any means...but I have a feeling that maybe these people aren't very green!

I'm not sure if I can save this story, but I'll try, I suppose. It's a little disturbing that I can write and re-read a story so many times, but not even realize I'm being preachy and bitter. I think I may need an editor!

(image credit)


Little Mel said...

This may be a bad time to ask, but where do you submit your stuff to? I'd like to submit some of my writing, but never know where.

Eponine said...

It's best to go to Barnes and Noble and take a look at some magazines that publish work that's similar to yours. Write down their names and google them when you get home--many magazines have submission links right on their front page.

There are some very specific rules for most publications. Most places won't publish anything that has been previously published anywhere else. (This includes self published, and even on a blog or facebook.)

Patti said...

I've edited other people's stuff, suggested changes to smooth out flow, etc... in case you are interested.

Eponine said...

Patti: Absolutely! I need all the help (and honest feedback) that I can get right now.

imfortyish said...

I think you are all so brave to put your work out there! Brilliant!