About a month ago, I submitted a story for consideration in an anthology a friend is editing and publishing. The collection is called “The Science Fiction Tarot”. Stories weren’t supposed to be about the tarot, but the authors were to come up with a concept for a tarot card of the future, and make a story around that concept.

I was late coming up with an idea; sci-fi is not my usual wheelhouse. Something did eventually come to me, though it was slow coming together. Not only was I working in a genre I don’t dabble in much, I was also writing in a different style for me. My stories are always a pretty straight forward narratives, but this one I was telling like it was an after-the-fact report, so it was all in diary excerpts, crew logs, and communications transcripts. It was a definite challenge but I think I put together a pretty decent piece. I managed to submit it a day before the deadline. I had to submit it under a pen name, of course, since a friend is editing it and they have to be impartial.

This was my first time submitting anything for an actual selection process, and it was a long month waiting for a response. I tried to keep my expectations reasonable – the chances of getting accepted on my first-ever submission were extremely low. I decided my goal was not to be accepted, but to avoid getting rejected in the first round.

I’m pretty sure I drove my friend nuts asking him every week at our meetings if he was done reading all the stories yet, but he was good natured about it. I was delighted when I found out I had, in fact, made it through the first round of rejections. I have to admit, this made it hard to keep my hopes in check. My imagination runs away with me – I hope for way too much, and end up crushed when my unrealistic expectations can’t possibly be met.

Last weekend I got the email – my story was rejected. There was some helpful feedback which I appreciated, but I sat there waiting for the crushing depression to kick in, ready to spend the rest of the day crying and sad.

 

But it didn’t.

 

To my massive surprise, I felt a brief burst of sadness, and then my brain went straight to the feedback and thinking about how I could improve the story to submit somewhere else. I just felt glad that I’d taken a chance, I’d made my goal of not being rejected in the first round, and that it had been good enough that the readers had bothered to give me some feedback.

This feels like a bit of a miracle to me. High hopes and crushing depression have always been my cycle. Certainly I always I drag myself out of it eventually and carry on, but taking things in stride is not my norm. For me this shows that all the effort I’ve been putting in to be less fear-driven, and more active in building a life I want, is actually paying off. Somewhere along the line my brain has started figuring out that rejection isn’t the end of the world, and that I can keep trying, and keep getting better.

Submitting a story and getting my first rejection – those are both firsts and milestones. But getting rejected and moving on with my life feels like the real milestone here.

1 Comment

  1. Ryan Woods

    You’ve got the right attitude about rejection. They’re learning opportunities. Keep up the good work 🙂

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