I just received a rejection notice for one of my short stories. The prestigious literary review had held on to the story for so long that I began to hope they were accepting it. Alas, no.
So I reread the story. It was an OMG moment. What had I been thinking when I sent in the story? There was so much wrong with it! Not the least of which was that the story didn’t really begin until page three.
Just so you know, before I sent the story in, I edited it repeatedly. Others also read and commented on the story. How could we all miss something so basic? Do I have to lock something away for a year to avoid fooling myself into thinking it is polished?
I am no stranger to getting rejections for my written work. Anyone who writes fiction knows the drill. That doesn’t make the sting of rejection any easier, but this post is not about the emotional cost of rejections. It is about my disappointment in myself that, as improved a writer as I think I am, I can still make stupid mistakes.
I have now altered my story’s beginning, along with making other editorial changes. I hope this revised version will cause an editor to smile and say, “This is for me.” I can’t shake the feeling, though, that I am missing something that will be obvious to me a year from now.
How do you know when your work is polished enough to send it out? Or does it only get that designation when someone decides to publish it?