Makes Me Realize Why I Am Here…
Today, towards the end of the 16 hour day of packing and moving, I was sorting through boxes of old filing and stuff that needs to come to Vegas and I came across a banker’s box completely full.
It had five of those massive photo albums in it, all bursting with too much stuff. Each album contained an entire year of rejection slips. I used to put all my rejections in these big photo albums before I learned that the rejection slips need to be filed with a copy of the story and so on.
So I opened up one of the big albums and it had hundreds and hundreds of rejections from all the top magazines and editors like Terry Carr, now long dead. And a few were rejections for stories I don’t remember even writing, and one was for a story I sort of remember, but can’t find.
Rough count easily three thousand rejection slips in those five years. Easily.
And being tired after a long day I looked at all those rejections and realized it was because I could get that many rejections, and keep going and not give up was the very reason I am here now. So many writers get a few rejections and give up. I just kept writing and sending out stories. Year after year, story after story.
I kept writing, never rewrote, kept learning, kept moving forward.
For example, one of the rejections was for a story of mine called “The Mouth that Walked.” Gardner said it was too strange for Asimov’s. I sold that story to Amazing Magazine and over the years it has been reprinted a bunch of times, and I put it in Smith’s Monthly, and this last month is was in the first volume of Year of the Cat.
Luckily, like so many beginning writers, I didn’t stop because I got a rejection. Or two.
Or over three thousand in five years.
And if you don’t think you can get three thousand rejections in five years, in those five years I wrote just over 200 short stories. And I was stunningly good at marketing and keeping stories in the mail, at times having 70 different stories out to editors. One story in those years was rejected 34 times and sold on the 35th time out to Gambling Times Magazine.
Sometimes the evidence of why I am a successful writer appears in one old box. And tells so much about why I am here and why so many others who started with me are not.