Building Up A Critical Mass

BTW, before I start this post–I never check the spam filter, so if you did comment on a post and it didn’t show or I didn’t respond, then chances are you somehow got spammed.  Sorry!  You can repost or just shoot me an e-mail to let me know and I can go find it and release it from purgatory.  (I just find it too hard to know which of those are spam and which aren’t.  Some are blatantly obvious, but the one asking what template I use?  No clue if it’s clever spam or legit.)

Anyway.  This has been a week for rejection.  Three short story rejections in three days.  And all form rejections, too.  One from a market that had previously sent me two personals on other stories and on a story that had second rounded at two of the three markets I’d subbed it to.  Bad fit it seems.

So, as we all know, rejection sucks.

And when you get rejected like that it’s tempting to “take a break.”  You’re not quitting, you’re just avoiding rejection for a while.  (Anyone who has ever dated in the adult world probably knows this feeling, too.)

You think, “I’ll come back to it, I just need a little recovery time.”

But then maybe you never do.  Because not being rejected (or disappointed) feels pretty good.  You’re writing for writing’s sake.  Screw publication.  This is about exploring your hidden depths and finding out what you truly believe about the world.  (Something, I might add, that has made for a slightly disturbing experience for me personally…)

It isn’t about fame or money or recognition or what other people think of you.

You write for you.  And that’s why all those cool stories you’ve been writing are sitting on your computer slowly degrading into random ones and zeros.

This is where critical mass comes into play.  Because, lucky me (?), I had nine stories on submission at the beginning of this week.  So, even though I got three sucky rejections, I can’t quit right now.  Those six are still out there working for me.  And one is going to take at least eighty days before I see a response.

And chances are that in those eighty days, one of the other stories will come back with a positive rejection (I aim high) that will motivate me again and by the time those eighty days are up I’ll have bit the bullet and submitted these three stories somewhere else.  And if I don’t submit them, then I’ll have finished one of my works in progress and sent it out the door.

And maybe I’ll hit another low point and want a break, but as long as I have a critical mass of submissions out there, I can’t stop.  It’s like rolling a boulder downhill.  (We’re assuming it’s round, here.)  Once it gets going, it’s going to the bottom of that hill unless you somehow get in front of it and stop it.  The bigger you make that boulder, the harder it’s going to be.

And that’s a good thing.  Because the only way to fail in this is to quit.  As long as we’re all still writing and subbing, it’s just a matter of time.  Hopefully we all get published before our cap T arrives, but we most definitely won’t if we stop now.

(A little economics humor there.  Cap T was used in some equation about how we consume based upon our average expected lifetime income and Cap T is your expected death date.  Not sure why it was so funny when the professor used it in class, but it stuck with me.  That and making an X symbol every time I think of supply and demand.  Gee, aren’t I glad I spent all that money on a college education…but I digress.)

So, if the option is to make one story perfect or to write a second story and sub it as well, go with the second story option.  Sure, maybe the first story has flaws (I have one out now that I KNOW is going to be rejected because I wrote it a year ago and it kinda sucks and I can see that now), but better to have two stories out there than one.  And better to have three than two and four than three and…you get it.

Build up that critical mass.  Keep some balls in the air at all times.  Make that boulder so large that there is no way you can stop it.

(And, all of those clichés and bad images would probably be why I’m still not published.  Oh well.  I really do talk like that…I’m just trying my darndest not to write fiction that sounds like that–too much.)




About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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