I am finding myself in an unusual position: having a story that might truly not have a home. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on this story, and it seems to provoke very polar reactions. Some people Love-it-except-for-x. Other people cannot stand it. And among those who Love-it-except-for-x, the x is one of two things: either they want the violence made front and center, or they want the violence toned down.
I don’t really want to do either. And at this point, even if I could find a way to edit it further, I’m not sure what markets are left.
I think I’ve written before, here, about how part of my process is writing through that first rush of love for a story. That the real tightening and polishing comes when the ardor has cooled, when you’re in that bittersweet stage of a great passion coming to an end. I reached that point with this story months ago. Now, after so many rejections, after so many near-misses . . .
(it’s made final cut for three different magazines, it was a finalist for an award, it was even accepted to one venue only to be told they wanted me to rewrite the violence . . .)
coupled with so many resounding, near-instantaneous NOs . . . well, let’s just say I’m starting to feel rattled by the whole mess. Is it even any good? Is my perception of my own work totally skewed? Am I endlessly shopping around some tainted calling card?
It’s all a little heartbreaking. It’s one of my longer pieces; it took a fair bit of time to write, plus the workshopping, the revising, and then months upon months of submitting it around—and since I started writing again I have felt pressed for time, terrified of wasting any time, I have so little of it to begin with. To toss thousands of polished words into the drawer—to toss anything into the drawer, at this time in my life—ugh.
And part of me just doesn’t want to stop, I’m always reading about people’s stories getting published after 2 or 3 years, dozens of rejections, just hang in there and you’ll find the right place . . .
argh, I don’t really know what to do. This headcold isn’t helping.
Perhaps I’ll make another cup of tea, and take One More Look. :/