As I expected, my first rejection has come in. Of the three stories I submitted for publication last weekend, the first got its rejection notice in two days. I’m still waiting to hear back on the other stories, but I can’t say I expect different responses. Acceptance rates are low, it’s just a fact.

I’m pleased to say I wasn’t particularly phased by the rejection. No stress, no tears, just shrugged shoulders and an internal “I guess we look somewhere else now.” I might feel differently when rejections start piling up, but I’m glad that I’m not crumbling with the first “no.”

The real challenge now is that I have to build a new habit – resubmitting a story right away once it’s rejected. Habit building is always a struggle. But the speed with which I got this rejection is not typical; most places take a few weeks and some can take months. The Submission Grinder tells you the average wait for a response, and the place I submitted this piece to has a particularly fast turnaround time. That’s not going to be the norm.

One thing I’ve learned from this is that most places will not consider a story that’s currently under consideration by another journal. So you can generally only submit a story to one place at a time and most rejections are going to take a while. The conclusion is it just makes good sense to submit a story to another journal as soon as you get a rejection to minimize how much idle time your story has.

So have I resubmitted this rejected story right away? I have not. I do have a reason for that, which takes me to my second theme for this week. The friend who taught me how to submit also gave me some background about a few of the publications she’s familiar with. There’s one she mentioned as being a good potential market for this story that just got rejected, but with the catch that this magazine doesn’t take stories with any mention of technologies more recent than the 1930’s.

This particular story of mine has almost no references to technology, but there are a few things – one mention of a cell phone, a Formica table of a style from the 50’s or 60’s, that kind of thing. It would be a small thing to remove or change those references to fit this publication. Doing so would not change the thematic content or meaning of the story in any way.

Just the same I find myself hesitating. I’ve edited my stories before, but I’ve never changed one to fit someone else’s requirements. My brain is asking “Is this what selling out is?” To be clear, I’ve never liked the concept of “selling out” when I’ve heard it applied to music, movies or whatever. The idea that it’s bad for people to try to create things that are successful and get a wide audience has always seemed ludicrous to me. Artists need to make money to live too and it’s also foolish to think that just because something is popular it means that it was less meaningful to the artist. Changes in style can be as linked to changes in the artist’s life, experiences and outlook as they can be to any notion of mass appeal.

But even thinking this way, I still find myself rebelling against the idea of changing my story to suit this magazine. My rational mind thinks I’m being ridiculous. The changes needed would change nothing about the journey my character goes on. It wouldn’t change the ending. It wouldn’t change the themes. It wouldn’t change the analogy. It would change two lines of dialogue and a handful of references. A Formica table becomes wood. A pair of sneakers become comfortable boots. A glance at a cell phone to check the time just doesn’t happen. It’s nothing. The protagonist still goes on the same journey, meets the same people and does the same things.

But yet I’m resisting.

I don’t know yet what the issue is. This is a new situation for me and it takes me some time to unravel the tangle of feelings and thoughts I have about any new thing. I think I’m going to try submitting somewhere that doesn’t need the edits for now, while I work through this block in my head and figure out what I’m really upset about here.

It could be that I’m just being bullish about being told what to do, I’m bad for that. Maybe I feel differently about “selling out” and artistic integrity when I’m the artist in question. It could very well be a shame/fear/guilt reaction about being afraid to be *seen* as a sellout, more than being afraid of actually being one.  It could also be some heretofore unconsidered fourth option that I’ll discover in the days to come. I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

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