When a story gets rejected more than a dozen times and I deem it a lost cause, I could let it collect cyberdust on my hard drive.
I could muster enough courage to share it openly with you fine people. If I choose the latter, we all get a chance to tear a story apart together, to learn together as a community and grow as storytellers.
See, it’s easy to give abstract advice on writing—every blog on writing or publishing does that all of the time. Heck, I do that. Why? Because it’s easy to dish out advice. What’s hard is giving practical, real-life examples like “Watch this replay where I fail miserably. See that? Epic fail. Don’t do that.” Real-life examples require vulnerability.
Then again, there’s an entire website devoted to failing, a subculture founded on #fail and #winning. It all started with skater culture, skaters who love watching old clips of their buddies racking themselves during an insane attempt to grind down some fifty-step rail. Thus Johnny Knoxville. When we learn from, laugh over, and accept failure it leads to success… or at least good slapstick. That’s why we writers need the reformation of rejection slips. So yeah, I’ll have to find some chutzpa to share the crap I keep in the “Boneyard” folder on my wife’s MacBook. But you know what?
It’ll be worth it.
Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces much fruit. I choose to bury this snubbed story, to plant it in hopes that we learn something at its funeral. To heck with the word funeral, let’s call this a wake.
Ask yourself: Why did this story get rejected? What’s wrong with this picture? And then join me in the comments for a discussion on this story and storytelling.
I’m sharing the following literary short story, warts and all. It’s entitled “Attachment” and was rejected 20 times:
April 20th, 1949
Four days since I saw you. Feels just about like forty. Fort Bellvorde’s nice compared to Fort Scott’s patch of grass. More ways to spend rec time than Scott. Continue reading