On _almost_ selling a story

I might not have sold to every SF magazine, but I think I’ve gotten close with almost all of them. I’ve had stories passed up. I’ve had personal comments. I’ve gone to editorial boards, etc. I’ve gone to rewrites. I’ve had requests for partial manuscripts. I think I know almost everything there is to know about getting within sight of the finish and then crapping out.

 And I’ve often felt really bad about that. In fact, I often tell people that the worst rejection isn’t the cold, impersonal one…it’s the one that seems to say that you came soooo close, but that you didn’t make it for some crazy, weird reason that you maybe couldn’t even control.

In fact, I just got the closest rejection of my career. Redstone, a fairly respectable SF magazine (that has published two of my stories) told me that they liked my story and wanted to buy it for the October issue, but, for other reasons, they’d decided to stop publishing in September.

And I didn’t feel bad at all! I just sent them an email congratulating them on a good run and then went to sleep.

I think I’ve started to realize that close calls are neither close nor uncommon. I’ve had too many of them. After awhile, it just becomes silly. A magazine can only publish a limited number of stories, but it can generate as many close calls as it cares to. Just as the statistics of a writing career imply that there’ll be so many hundred cold, impersonal form rejections, they also imply that there’ll be this many dozen close calls. They don’t really mean anything, they’re just an outgrowth of the process. They’re good, but nothing worth calling your mom about. And they’re certainly no cause for sorrow. They’re just another thing that happens.

I’m very tired, so I think I’ll cut this off here. I’m sure that if I’d had more sleep in the last three days, this would’ve become an elegaic reflection on progress and reflection and quality and aspiration and the progress of time and the steady march towards death.

One thought on “On _almost_ selling a story

  1. jenniferkoliver

    I often tell people that the worst rejection isn’t the cold, impersonal one…it’s the one that seems to say that you came soooo close

    I always thought this, too, but your realisation makes a lot of sense. From now on, I’m going to stop pining over those close calls that are perhaps not as close as I think. Many thanks for this!

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