ManPullingHairOutYesterday was a holiday here in Boston, Patriot’s Day, celebrating the Battles of Lexington and Concord and “the shot heard round the world.” It’s celebrated in Massachusetts, Maine, and Wisconsin. Recent events–such as the gutting of the University of Wisconsin system–have led me to lose faith in Wisconsin, but this restores it a little. Good for them.

I had a productive writing day. I transcribed the start of a short story from my notebook to the computer, then lengthened it, and outlined the plot. I like it but I also have the sense it might be flat in the way two or three of my other short stories might be flat. It has a plot, it has characters, it’s readable, it flows, but there might just not be enough there there. I need to find more sharp turns, more vivid detail, more quirks. Having just written that, the two or three of my stories that I really like are driven more by the central character’s point of view and the depth of feeling. We shall see how they are received.

I then took time to go through some recent correspondence, and tally up my submissions and rejections. So far, I have submitted six stories to a total of eleven publications. I have four rejections. This includes two submissions I sent out yesterday, and one rejection I received yesterday.

I spent perhaps two hours choosing my two submissions and the two journals that would receive them. One of the journals I know well, and one was new to me, so I spent some time reading an interview with the fiction editor, and three stories he specifically cited as ones he enjoyed. My story seemed like a good fit.

A half-hour later I was checking email and a rejection letter appeared. In a moment of insanity I decided the rejection was from one of the two new submissions. I waited about three seconds before deciding what I knew to be a bad move, and started to write an angry response. “I have never responded to a rejection before, but you could not possibly have read the story thoughtfully, if you even read it all…” It was a good sentence, an angry sentence. I was deciding whether I should then condemn the journal or personally insult the editor when I paused. The rejection letter wasn’t from one of the morning submissions, but from a journal submission in February. I carefully deleted what i had written in the event that I might still accidentally send off the email, then I deleted the email.

I had to chuckle, even after getting over the momentary sting of another rejection. Spending too much time in your writing head does make you a little crazy.

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