April 30, 2013

End With a Bang...Finally!

Last week, I posted on Facebook that moonShine review accepted two of my short stories for publication.  Among the comments, one friend wrote, "Finally!"  I chuckled over this because I realized she thought this was my first published story.  It's not, but I loved her for her enthusiasm.

Then, I thought about the two stories accepted by moonShine review. Gentle Snow might be one of my best stories.  I had never submitted it before because I wanted to choose the right publication.  And I was right; they wanted it.  That felt good because the other story, Pieces, plagued me for years.

While working on my Master's degree in 2004, I wrote Pieces for a creative writing class. The professor had urged me to veer from my genre writing and try to write something literary.  The result was Pieces, a fictionalized account of a horrific event during my first marriage.  When the class critiqued my story, I received positive comments from the teacher and my classmates, and I knew them to be stingy with compliments. At the end of the semester, my professor told me, "This story is publishable as is. I wouldn't change anything."

Confident I had a winner, I submitted Pieces to a contest and waited for the accolades to fall on me.  I didn't win...or get second place...or even an Honorable Mention. Not even a ripple. Huh?  Not to be defeated, I submitted the story somewhere else.  Nothing. Nada. Nil.

I reviewed the comments from my classmates, all English majors or graduate students with literary aspirations, and tweaked a few details. Still, my "publishable" story sat on the shelf.  I decided to let it rest.  Afterall, people wanted my other stories and essays.

Last month, on a whim, I pulled Pieces out and dusted it off. After reading it out loud, I made one  change...to the last lines of the story. When I reread the story, I knew, it worked. The original lines stayed true to the actual event, but they didn't end with a bang, more like the last few moments of a sparkler on the Fourth of July.  The new lines didn't stray from the truth, and now the ending zinged.

So, my friend's comment of "Finally!" fit the situaton.  I waited several years to find the appropriate  publisher for this story.  And, now I knew my professor was right.  The story was publishable, it just needed a little tweak and the right audience.

My story, Pieces, will appear in the Spring issue of moonShine Review, and my story, Gentle Snow, will be in the Fall issue.

How about you?  What kinds of rejection have you faced?


5 comments:

Valerie Keiser Norris said...

I've killed an agent's career. We both thought a novel I'd written was sold--publisher kept it for months, asked for a rewrite, which I did, kept holding it. Then the publisher was bought by another publisher, and my novel was sent back to me. The agent (new) was so disappointed she quit the business, saying if she couldn't sell that novel she couldn't sell anything. The novel went through another agent, who also couldn't sell it. The manuscript sits on my shelf now.

Barbara V. Evers said...

Ouch! Valerie, you never struck me as a killer before. I might have to rethink your friendly smile!

Wayne G. said...

What kind of rejection? Deserved.

Lissa Clouser said...

First publication or not... CONGRATS!

Barbara V. Evers said...

Wayne, you always make me laugh. Humility is a great thing. Maybe I'll learn some one day!

Lissa, thank you. It never grows old, but sometimes I feel silly making such a big deal over another publication.