Life of a Former Slush Pile Reader

A TALE IN WHICH THE AUTHOR, at her computer, comes across a newly released story.

“Didn’t they already release this one?” she asks herself. “I could have sworn they printed it last year. Let’s see if anybody else noticed in the reviews.”

But no one did. There was nothing but praise for the story, and so the author reflects on where she might recognize this story from.

“Oh,” she says to her cat, “I read this when it was in the slush pile. I approved it and sent it to the next level of approval/rejection. Huh.”

The author felt pretty cool about that.


Take As Needed

My computer is still in a state of disrepair. The new hard drive is installed, the BAZILLIONS of updates to the OS are up and running, and I installed FireFox so that counts for the majority of necessary fixes. However, my stupid battery backup decided to kick the bucket so it will still be a few days before Writing Base Alpha is back up to speed.

Sidenote: batter backups make me feel guilty when they die because they make those sad little beeps as they fail. Poor things.

In the meantime, please allow me to offer you some delightful links!

Crossed Genres is seeking first readers! First Readers are the front line of slush pile submissions and as such, are always in high demand so that editors can spend their time more efficiently. Sort that wheat from that chaff!

Chuck Wendig’s excellent writing blog has an excellent article on the 25 Things A Great Character Needs. I highly recommend that you give his site a looksie as it is chock-a-block full of interesting and useful thoughts on writing.

Tired of writing, thinking about writing, reading about what other people thing about writing, and need a break from the craft in general? Whenever I want to do something creative that doesn’t involve trying to write out the scenes in my head, I bake. The King Arthur Flour blog is an excellent resource for any level of baker. Baking is a great way to create something in a different way than you might, say, crochet or write or garden. I think it is a great way to clear my mind and in the end, I get something delicious to eat when I get back to writing!

What are some good sites that you think I should be looking at? Let me know in the comments!

How I Feel When I Get Rejected

Rejection letters! They’re a fact and function of submitting stories to various markets. My most recent additions to the “pile of sadness” include a rejection from Podcastle (rad audio podcast for fantasy stories) and my semi-annual rejection from Writers of the Future.

I get rejection letters, do you? How do you feel when you get them? I’m curious to hear from other’s about their experience and in turn, share my own. Usually the process goes like this:

  1. Send off a submission. Immediately re-read the e-mail and fret that I missed some grammatical error or skipped a step in the submission process.
  2. Look at the average reply time, and pretend like I’m not anticipating the e-mail.
  3. Once the average reply time gets close, stop pretending and check e-mail every forty minutes.
  4. Receive an e-mail from the market I submitted to!  Hey! A thrill of excitement and tension in the space between recognizing the e-mail address and reading the actual e-mail.
  5. Thanks to Gmail, immediately see the first line of the e-mail. See something along the lines of “Thanks for your submission, but-” or “Your story did not win” or something equally polite.
  6. Sense of anticipation is now mingled with disappointment. There is a detached sense of embarrassment for offering a sub-standard story to the market and for wasting a slush reader’s time.
  7. Tuck the e-mail into my “rejection letters” folder, and move on to doing something like reading my Tumblr for a while. Possibly use the rejection as a means to justify getting frozen yogurt.

I think that out of all of that, its the embarrassment that bothers me. I hate that feeling, and it bugs me that I react that way. The rational part of me knows that my story was read and then forgotten but the stupid part of me that remains in high school would prefer if I just hid all of the other stories I have in the back of my hard drive rather than put myself through that again. Fortunately that part of me had been outvoted for quite some time now, so it gets shoved into its own little locker and I keep trying.


IN OTHER NEWS THAT IS RELATED TO THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER, I finally got a fire in my but about NaNoWriMo and am reaching for that brass ring. Watch my word count jump up in the next few days! Yes I am dumb.

So how do you react? Anger, shame, apathy? Do you keep the rejection letters or delete them? Do you listen to your sad music of choice for a while and then soldier on? I am almost certain this is a straw man that I’ve created but I imagine that there are still writers who have stories that remain un-submitted for fear of rejection. I promise, it doesn’t hurt for long! It’s like…what, getting vaccinated? It hurts for a little, and if it is a tetanus shot then you’ll be sore for a few days, but afterwards you’ll be stronger! Your stories will be stronger! You’ll be… less susceptible to whooping cough?

Okay, I lost that metaphor.   I hope that every writer who reads this has their own rejection story because gosh darn it, it means you’ve tried.