Or more real than it was last week
Or it’s always been real, but now I have proof*
What am I talking about? Last week I learned that two of my short stories were accepted for publication. Not one. Two. Needless to say I am thrilled my stories will be in the September issue of Eclectic Flash.
When I saw the replies sitting in my inbox that morning last week, I mentally braced myself for more rejections. In fact, I must have read the acceptance emails a dozen times before I believed my eyes. Then I spent a few hours waiting to see if another email would arrive explaining there had been a terrible mistake and that they didn’t actually want my stuff. It never came.
Now you might think I had no confidence in placing these stories based on the mental hand-wringing described above. That’s not true. I absolutely loved my stories – which is why I spent so much time revising and submitting them. I though they were worth the effort and the rejections that came with them. After all, besides all the writing, rejection is the other hallmark of being a writer.
But I was so focused on the submitting and revising cycle that it never occurred to me how an acceptance would affect things. So I offer up some impressions after going through this process:
No More Tinkering – I no longer have to ponder past rejections or scour submission guidelines and revise these two stories. They’ve been accepted. They will be published. And I need not tinker with them again. In some ways, that's a relief. But I sometimes feel the empty space in my brain where they used to reside as I'd think about new ways to improve them.
No Money? No Problem – Eclectic Flash is a non-paying market. The distinction between paying and nonpaying does matter to some writers. But honestly, that wasn’t an issue for me. The validation that the publication credits gives me and the accessibility of my stories in both print and online has far more value at this stage in my writing life.
Never Underestimate Fit – My submission strategy is usually to aim at the top markets and go from there. I had collected a couple of rejections, and was debating my next step for both my stories when I learned about Eclectic Flash. After reading their guidelines, I felt my stories would be a great fit – not a cross-your-fingers-and-let’s-see but a oh-my-gosh-it-sounds-perfect feeling. So I sent them off even though I hadn’t exhausted all the pro markets yet. And I will never regret that decision.
Never Discount Story Ideas – The kernel for both these stories originated from prompts I participated in through my weekly writing group. Something about them compelled me to keep working on them until they were strong enough for me to submit. Had I not participated in the writing group or never allowed myself to revisit the stories, I wouldn’t be published.
Now What? Now that the revise/resubmit cycle is over for these two stories, there’s others that need my attention. I thought I’d feel different about getting a few publication credits under my belt. Perhaps even feel less cowardly about getting my stuff out there. But now all I’m thinking about is where do I go from here? What’s next? How do I keep up this momentum?
My stories in Eclectic Flash are a stepping stone. A first big break. Validation after months of hard work. The credits for that third paragraph in a query. The end of what could have been considered a hobby. And a new beginning…
Eclectic Flash Submission Guidelines
Eclectic Flash at Duotrope Digest
Six Questions for Brad Nelson, Editor, Eclectic Flash