Every great once in a while something extraordinary happens. As I mentioned in my last post, I really hadn’t submitted fiction for publication for almost three years. (I had a couple of non-fiction projects going.) About three weeks ago I began submitting again.
I have a backlog of stories ready to go. That backlog is now one story less. “The Pain of a Caterpillar” was accepted, to my great delight, by Ghostlight: The Magazine of Terror. I’ve finally broken the magical number of twenty short stories accepted for publication.
The truly remarkable thing, however, was the alacrity with which it was accepted. I have been writing fiction for over forty years and never had a story accepted on the same day it was submitted before. I was absolutely thrilled.
As a writer, fewer things make you feel as validated as acceptance. You have to go through an awful lot of rejection to get there. This particular story was one I was particularly fond of. It ties together several aspects of my own experience and my own fears.
I know quite a few editors, and one truth that may sometimes lie hidden is just how much power they have. My Medusa novel was accepted by an editor who left the press where it was contracted (Vagabondage) before it could be published. The new editor didn’t like it, and killed it.
Editors, obviously, are people too. Your story (or even non-fiction) must strike them as a good fit or it goes nowhere. As much as my self-pity tells me it’s my fault, it’s really not. There’s always an element of chance involved. But you have to try otherwise your work will never get accepted.
I’ve read of writers getting first drafts published. I tend to edit, and edit, and edit again. Thousands of words fill bloody trenches with my sacrificial cutting. Appropriate, I suppose, for a writer of scary stories. As usual, I’ll post on the story once it appears. Until then, I’ve got a backlog to replenish.