My apologies for the late update. Sunday was busier than expected (in a good way) but thankfully the long weekend means I can make it up today.

Last Monday I got something very exciting – my first personalized rejection! But wait, you might say, how is that different from a regular rejection? That’s a fair question. Most rejections are form letters along the lines of “Dear Erin, Thanks for submitting but this story isn’t what we’re looking for right now. Good luck to you.”  That’s the kind of rejection I’ve gotten so far and that’s typical. The rejection I received on Monday was a personalized email with feedback about the specifics of my story and changes I could make to improve it.

This rejection also took longer than the average for that publication. Everything else I’ve submitted has been returned to me in the average time or less for the magazine I submitted to. I have no actual information about why this took longer than average, but the optimist in me likes to think that it means the editor had to at least sleep on this one before they rejected it.

 A form rejection received in less than the average time definitely leaves me wondering if the story even warranted a full read from the editor. Did they just read the first few paragraphs and then put it on the “No” pile? You can never know and so of course my brain assumes the worst. This slightly-longer-than-average and personalized rejection feels like the exact opposite. My story got a full read and enough of this editor’s attention that they took the time to write notes about it. That definitely feels like a victory.

The other exciting thing this week was sharing the first chapter of my novel with one of my writing groups. This isn’t something I’ve previously done because I’ve been too self-conscious and it’s so long that trying to get a group to review it piecemeal over the course of months just doesn’t feel particularly productive. I shared the prologue and a piece of mythology from the book with this group previously, but this is the first time they’ve seen the main body of the book.

Now I’ve been working through the edits my alpha readers gave me, but other than a few small comments here and there, to date it’s been mostly line edits, not content changes or rewrites. I’ve mentioned before that I have a hard time looking at my work and knowing where to cut things. I can trim a few words from a paragraph and maybe even a sentence or two, but I rarely look at a scene and think “this whole thing can go”.  

Luckily for me, my writing group didn’t have that problem. They pointed out a lot of things that are bogging down the action and the tension, and so should probably be cut. Despite my inability to notice these things myself, once they’re pointed out I understand them immediately. I can’t deny my first reaction was “Oh my god, how could I be so dumb and blind?? OF COURSE these things don’t need to be there” and a lot of general embarrassment that I could have presented the group with something so obviously unready.

Then I reminded myself that the whole point of showing it to people is so that they can help me with this kind of thing and the process is working exactly as it’s meant to. That’s when the exciting bit began – I started thinking about how to incorporate the things they suggested. Now I’m swimming in ideas about rewrites for Chapter 1 that will improve the flow and build tension. I’ve got plans for how I’m going to alter Chapter 2 before the group even sees it so that they don’t have to point this same kind of thing out to me again. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to do that with subsequent chapters now too.  

After months of line edits and feeling like I had no new ideas, it’s been such a wonderful feeling to be excited about rewrites. It’s been a much-needed kick start of the editing process. I think exciting things are afoot for my novel and hopefully also for my short story submissions. I’ve got some rewrites to do, based on that editor’s feedback, before resubmitting that story for submission, and then it’s on to rewriting things in my novel. Hopefully I’ll have a leaner, more exciting version of the book to show for it.

1 Comment

  1. Mom

    Great news! I love how positive you are. This is such a big step in the right direction 🙂

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