Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Looking backward...looking forward

There was a time in my life where I was really into writing short stories, and I even had some of them published. There were lots of rejections though. One in particular I’ve never forgotten. I’d submitted a story to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, and received a really vitriolic letter back from Herself in which she basically told me I was a no-talent wannabe and should give up writing fiction immediately!
Shortly afterwards, I took a workshop with the science fiction writer Judith Merrill. She was a gravel-voiced, no-nonsense person who frankly scared me because she never smiled. But I decided: “What the heck, I’ll submit the same story because I like it.”
Then Judith called Edo Van Belkom and me in for chat. She asked me about my life, and then she said: “What does your husband think about living with a novelist?” And I told her he was actually very supportive and a lot more domesticated than I was. “That’s good news Susan because you can do it,” she replied. I haven’t of course. I mean I have written a novel and parts of few others, but I haven’t had one published. Edo, however, has gone on to publish at least two horror novels that I know of.
Another hostile rejection I received was from the fiction editor of Woman’s World. I’d submitted a romantic short story and she sent me an extremely hostile letter saying she didn’t think much of my mini mystery. Huh? At least MZB took the time to carefully read and trash my story, but I’m sure the Woman’s World virago didn’t even bother. Don’t these babes realize that writers who submit stories to their magazines actually buy and read them? Not that I read Woman’s World anymore, that’s for sure.
Oh well, any fiction writer has to be a gambler, and I’m definitely that. For the past couple of days I’ve been rereading my short stories. Of the fifteen or so I looked through, I’d say one is really good (not the one I expected either), two are good and the rest, while serviceable, shouldn’t be pursued. While I’m no longer interested in writing short stories, I think I just might submit the ones I do like to some writing contests still open right now.
P.S. The collage shown above was rejected from a juried show.

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