Tag Archives: CC Finlay

Rejection

sad dragon
Bummer, dude

I heard back from C.C. Finlay, who’s guest editing an issue of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (or F&SF, for short). Regular readers of this blog may remember when I posted about submitting a story for this issue. Charlie doesn’t plan to use my story this July/August. He liked it, but he didn’t love it. Actually, here’s his email, verbatim:

Thanks for submitting “Gathering for the Feast.” I enjoyed reading it — I like the setting, the history, the magic, and characters. But in the end it didn’t quite win me over — part of that was it felt just a bit too long to me for the amount of story in it. So I’m afraid I’m going to pass on it. Best of luck with finding another home for it, and thanks again for giving me a chance to read it. If I do this again I hope to see another story from you.

A friend of mine also submitted a story, and received a rejection. In the interests of ferreting out exactly how personal my rejection letter was, and how much it was  form letter, I can report that both our rejections began and ended pretty much the same way. “Thank you for submitting [title].” appeared in both letters. So did the ending part: “Best of luck to you placing this one elsewhere, and thanks again for giving me a chance to read it. If I do this again I hope to see more stories from you.

The part where I know he actually read my story, and my friend’s—or at least, he got decent evaluations of them from a careful reader—comes in between the form sections. My friend’s center section was different from mine. Not exactly a form letter, right? Anyway, I’ve decided to take it as encouragement. Why? Because I can!

So now I need to decide what to do next. There are two options I can see. The first would be to go back in and see if I can figure out where and how the story is too long. The second would be to just go ahead and submit it elsewhere.

Here’s the thing: if I didn’t have any other projects vying for my attention, I would probably go back in there. I might find something to improve, something that’s escaped me up to this point. However, I have at least two other works in need of revision. Also there’s the whole, “what if while I’m trying to fix it, I just make it worse?” question. You know how, when you’re having the beginnings of a bad hair day, and you keep futzing around with your hair, and by the time you’re done, it looks even worse than when you started? That’s my dilemma.

Here’s the way I’m leaning: decide in a day or two.

My plan for today is to revise a different short story. I marked it up yesterday. I want to get it in shape to put up on Critique Circle. Once they’ve had a go at it, I was going to run it by my other critique group. Then I was going to push the little darling out the door.

In the meantime, I have a hot mess of a novel which requires surgery and other doctoring. I plan to get back to work on that tomorrow.

Next week is Capricon. I can see doing a first draft of something, or even marking up a draft, while also attending a con. But to do revisions I really need to spread out. Unvisited marked-up pages go on the left, finished pages go on the right, my computer is in the middle, and my pulled-out hair is in the wastebasket. I’d rather deal with all that at home, thank you. So I won’t bring my novel along. I might take my rejected F&SF short story with me for markup, if I decide to have another look at it before sending it out again.

Anyone out there on the interwebs have an opinion? Do I just submit the story elsewhere, or do I try to fix it? I’d love to see your comments below. If it’s easier for you to respond using Twitter, Google+ or Facebook, feel free to comment that way instead.

Updated Scoreboard:
Year: 2014
Submissions: 2   Acceptances: 0   Rejections: 1

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January/February Issue

One of the great people who was in the Short Story Intensive workshop I took last November (hi, Sara!) clued the rest of us into an unusual opportunity. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is having a guest editor, C.C. Finlay, for their July/August issue. He’s written a bucket load of short stories and several novels, including the Traitor to the Crown series, and has become interested in the editing process. He was offered a chance to check it out by F&SF’s editor in chief, Gordon Van Gelder.

Now, I have submitted to F&SF in the past, and I expect that I will in the future, but I rather capriciously decided I needed to submit to this issue, and I can tell you the reasons, if you want to know. At least, I can tell you two of them.

1- C.C. Finlay is accepting electronic submissions. I loves me that process. I don’t have to go to find a manila envelope, go to the post office, get the manuscript weighed, make sure there’s a SASE in with the manuscript, and all of that. So, yay for electronic submissions.

2- I am trying to be braver about submitting in general. The wallpaper on my laptop is a smooshing-together of various people’s rules on writing, and Heinlein #3 and #4 just seemed to leap out at me when I heard about this contest.

In case you don’t happen to have Robert Heinlein’s rules memorized, rule #4 is “You must put your story on the market.” Right. I’ve been trying to get better at that, but I’m afraid I will embarrass myself in multiple ways. Like, you know, writing stories that aren’t any good and then letting professionals read them. But I had this story I really liked. It’s an odd story for a number of reasons, but what can I say? I like it, I’ve shown it to a few people, some of them liked it (and some didn’t – what are you gonna do?) but I wasn’t sure how much more work I could do on it without mucking it up and taking out the things that made the story interesting to me. So then I fell back on Heinlein #3: you must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.

Honestly, if I hadn’t already put a lot of work into this story, I might have figured Robert didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. Easy for you to say, I imagine myself saying to him. You’re Robert Freaking Heinlein. What about the rest of us, who aren’t as brilliant as you? How do we know what we’ve written is any good at all?

The answer is, of course, we don’t. Any story is as good as it can be, given whatever stage you’re at, in your development as a writer.  There is no such thing as a perfect writer, and there’s always the opportunity to improve. Okay, I could be completely wrong about that, but if I didn’t believe it, why keep trying? So C. C. Finlay is getting my short story. Most likely I’ll get a form letter back, but you never know, I may even get a personalized rejection. Thoughts like that keep me going.

I wonder if I should keep track of my submissions in a public manner this year. Post a scoreboard occasionally. Today my scoreboard looks like this:
Year: 2014
Submissions: 1   Acceptances: 0   Rejections: 0

We’ll see how it goes.