At the first of December, you may remember me telling you that one of my pieces had made it past the first round of readings at a science fiction magazine.
I haven’t made that big a deal of it. I often forget that its floating out there and not getting submitted elsewhere.
I learned early after the first few rejections for this one story that this process can be random. You have to make it past an initial reader who may or may not be a writer themselves. You are blind to that person’s personal tastes – they may hate robot stories, or think that science fiction has to be big words, big science, and big ideas. You never know who that first person is going to be, but most likely it won’t be the same kind of writer/reader that the final editor, the last barrier to publication, will be. You may have written the greatest science fiction masterpiece in the last decade, but if you can’t get it past that first reader, its going nowhere.
My three pieces have gone nowhere. I’ve received the occasional personal response, and they’ve been extremely informative, but for the most part, I’ve only received form letters:
“Sorry, this isn’t a good fit for us …”
“We cannot find a place for this piece in our publication …”
“This isn’t quite what we are looking for … ”
It wasn’t until December that I received my first bit of good news:
“Just a note to let you know that your submission had passed its initial reading … we are now considering it for publication … ”
So I made it past one reader … that doesn’t mean as much as the uninitiated might think. It gets my piece past one brain and in front of a few more. That’s even more opportunity for people to find something wrong with it. Maybe that first reader is just overly fond of robots stories, or isn’t that great a filter for the magazine. Maybe that one reader lets just about any piece through.
And that’s emotional and mental gravity pulling me towards self-initiated failure.
While I’d love to be the guy that is confident and thinks he’s the best no matter what, I am sometimes inexorably drawn towards self-deprecating inner monologues that cause the momentum of my path through life to be overwhelmed by the gravity of negative thought.
I want to be able to provide myself with my own momentum, my own internal velocity to escape from the pull of those kind of thoughts …
… but sometimes it helps to see things like:
“Just informing you that your submission has passed the second round of readings … your submission is now on our shortlist …”
And yes, I did get that very email today. Reaching escape velocity in …