When the Three Ps Pay Off...
I don't think anyone will survive in the world of writing if they're not willing to be stubborn in their practice. It can be incredibly frustrating to struggle through writing a story, edit it with painstaking care, and then wait for three months (or more) before finally getting a rejection letter. Why put all that time and effort into those pages if the chances of success are slim?
I'm not going to pretend that rejection has been easy for me. I've written dozens of poems and short stories, and I've only published a small fraction of them. I wrote an entire fantasy novel, an endeavor that began in middle school, and so far not one of the agents I've queried has responded with that coveted "Yes!". There have been times when I've thought about shelving certain stories that I can't seem to finish or find a home for. Occasionally I've even thought about giving up writing altogether.
But then I remember that failure is part of the package. It's simply a part of life. We all fail sometimes, and that's okay.
How many races did Michael Phelps lose before he got really good at swimming? How many shots did Michael Jordon miss in his climb to fame? How many notes did Jimi Hendrix miss on a guitar before he could play the Star Spangled Banner? How many times is a bull rider thrown from a bull before he figures out how to hold on for those seven terrifying seconds? These people would have gotten nowhere if they didn't try in the first place!
Likewise, a story won't publish itself, and every writer will be slapped in the face with more than a few rejections before they finally have that acceptance letter they've been chasing.
Recently, I'm excited to share, I finally caught one I've been after!
I've actually had a few acceptances recently, but the acceptance that really sent me over the rainbow was for my novelette The Spark. It's a dystopian thriller about a young woman who serves her King as an assassin, and she has to make a difficult choice when she finds her boyfriend is involved in a rebel plot. I had such a fun time writing this story, and I've spent six years trying to find a proper home for it.
I knocked on a lot of doors in my quest to publication. I sent the manuscript to a total of eleven different venues. Many of them simply replied with the usual "thank-you--no-thank-you", which is to be expected. The editors of some publications like The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Silver Blade gave me excellent feedback about what did and did not work in the story. I edited and tweaked, cut and rewrote. I sent it to friends and took their advice to heart. Despite my attention to craft, I still couldn't find someone who was interested.
I really was becoming discouraged. The Spark is about 15,800 words long; too long for most magazines and too short for most publishers to consider releasing as a standalone novella. When I sent The Spark to Hiraeth Publishing, I knew it would be one of the last hopes for this story. If this didn't work, I'd either have to shelve it, cut it dramatically, or expand it into a full novel. In fact, so few were my choices that I actually took a chance reaching out to Hiraeth because they usually don't publish novellas under 17,000 words. Mine was a tad short, but I figured there couldn't be any harm in politely asking. As my grandfather used to say, "If you don't go, you don't get".
I queried Tyree Cambell, the Editor-In-Chief. To my relief and gratitude, he agreed to give my not-quite-long-enough story a try. That was almost five months ago. Last week, I got an email from Mr. Cambell. My story was accepted, and not in a magazine but as it's own standalone volume! Suffice it to say I was (still am) ecstatic!
I have my parents to thank for this success. They've always encouraged me to dive head-first into my passions, and they instilled in me a deep appreciation for the Three Ps--Practice, Perseverece and Persistence. The Three Ps will get you through any major task, and I dare say for any artist they are essential. Whatever journey you're on in life, don't give up. You'll get there. You'll fail a lot along the way, but you'll be better for it.
The Spark will hopefully be out in August 2021. I CANNOT wait for you all to read it!
In addition to The Spark, I've also had a few batteries of poetry accepted with Scifaikuest, including my haiku sequence "Vision Quest: A Haiku Sequence of the Stone Age", which will be out in May 2022 I've also placed my sonnet "Phantoms of Words and Light" with the magazine Shelter of Daylight, and that will be out in October 2021.
To my Mom and Dad--thank you. I love you guys and I don't know where I'd be without your support!
To everyone else, thanks for reading. I'll post more details on The Spark as we get closer to the release date, and I have other prospects on the horizon. Until then, good luck, keep social distancing with a proper mask in public, and whatever your passion is don't give up!