Being rejected is part of the writing life. Yeah, yeah, we know that. But it can sometimes really drag me down and I have been known to indulge in a big ol’ sulk. Other times I have a nano sulk and let the rejection bounce right off. Acceptances are joy – they validate and elate. Whoo hoo for acceptances. However nobody, no matter how shit hot a writer, is going to be accepted every single time. Not unless they are a “name” – one of those elite who carry so much weight with their history that whatever they write, no matter how shonky, is published. (And the reader who questions the merit may feel that it is their own lack that stops them comprehending the genius.)

When I am rejected I often hate the rejected story. I re-read and what once seemed good, solid prose can appear tatty, flimsy, pedestrian, unbaked. (I have a couple of stories this is not true of. I remain deluded convinced that they will be huge successes one day.) I may ignore the rejected words for a while, or edit, or fling ’em straight back out hoping they will find a loving home. There’s no strict routine, it depends on how my mood is.

Roxane Gay wrote a post about rejection etiquette on the PANK blog the other day.  I always find Roxane’s posts there, and on her personal blog, fascinating. In this particular blog post I was struck by the comfort to be found here:
“If you are only looking for a “Yes,” you’re perhaps not cut out for the publishing game. More often than not, the answer is going to be no because any magazine can only publish so many writers. We’re basically full through October online and about 90% full for our next print issue. The majority of the writing we receive is great but we, like most magazines, are in a position where we can only publish the writing that really grabs us, that really makes us fall in love, that really moves us.”

This post was written on 31st May and already PANK are full for the next five months. I know this is the way things are with them as I had an acceptance from them a couple of months back that won’t go live until July. They receive untold amounts of submissions, they are chock full, when they say no, it’s not always going to be that the words sucked arse or that you’re not good enough. And it’s not just PANK is it? It’s all of the quality magazines and journals. This makes me feel so much better. I know how many talented writers are out *there* in internetworldwidewebland. I want my stories to shine and stand out, and sometimes they do. That’s bloody brilliant.

If Janice Galloway had read my story…

The short list for STORY – the International short story competition from HappenStance Press (which is, let’s be frank, a bit of a mouthful) went up today. I’m not on it and I’m so very gutted. I made the long list, but not the short list which means that Janice Galloway won’t get to read my story. Boo hoo.

Regular readers of my blog will be well aware that Ms Galloway is my favourite writer. I had a little fantasy that she’d love my story. Maybe it’s better this way though, she didn’t reject me, it never even made it to her.

By the way, if Janice Galloway’s publisher reads this I totally think you should send me a proof copy of the collected stories. I’ll have to replace “Where You Find It” in my display case so I should read the new volume first so as to properly be able to recommend it to all my customers. I’ll be rather sad not selling “Where You Find It” any more, though this latest collection which is a selection from WYFI and Blood is obviously A Jolly Good Thing Indeed.

Oh well, off to cheer myself up with Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist which is making me laugh out loud, much to my surprise.


This is a a small post to say hello. Small because I am pushed for time – all the time. I don’t know where my time went, anyone seen it? Before summer I thought I would catch up with everything in the holidays, and then in the holidays I thought I would catch up on everything when the boys went back to school. They just started secondary school, and I have less time than ever. The school walk takes me an hour in the morning, an hour in the afternoon. I figured the time walking would be good for my ideas – stories could germinate and I’d return home to write ’em up. Ha! Silly, foolish me.

I apologise to anyone who is waiting for an email reply from me, I am behind, again, still, sigh. Sorry too to anyone who is waiting for me to critique a story.

Writing wise I have finished the “coffee” story I have been working on and am looking for volunteers to critique it for me. I am way, way too close to it and can’t tell if it has merit or is utter pooh. I have a few subs “out there.” Had a really chilly rejection recently that kinda stung. I guess I am used to even my rejections being rather jolly and personal and encouraging.

I have been reading a new short story collection: “Nude” by Nuala Ní Chonchúir, and am pleased to tell you that she will be stopping by here as part of her blog tour on September 22nd. Hurray!

Right, have to dash, but hope to find some more time soon.

A better class of rejection?

I was advised that it would be better if I didn’t talk about rejections and submissions on my blog in case it gives a “bad impression” of my writing abilities. The person who advised this meant well, and said it kindly, but I just don’t think it’s my style to pretend that I only ever send out successful submissions. I don’t sub a lot, I rarely enter competitions, and I am trying to focus wholeheartedly on completing my novel, however, I have several small fictions that I would like to see published, and I mentioned here that I had sent a few to various places. So far I have had three rejections for three different pieces. As far as rejections go, these are lovely and encouraging. Three different editors have bothered to send me these comments:

Editor one – “We’re passing but this is a fine piece. Would be happy to read more of yours”

Editor two – “How’s it going? I just read the flash fiction piece you submitted. I regret to say that “xxxx” didn’t make the final cut for ZZZZ. Nevertheless, i really dig your style and think your style would make a great fit for ZZZZ. So feel free to submit a fresh batch of work for future consideration.”

Editor three – ” Thanks for sending us “xxxx”. We’re sorry to say they didn’t quite find a home in ZZZZ. We had a bumper crop of submissions and had to make a lot of hard decisions fast, and live with them, unfortunately. It was a close run thing. We always like pieces that are a little off the main road like this, so we do hope you’ll send us something for the next issue. We think you were unlucky this time around.”

Nice huh? All three say they would like to see more. That’s great. But (y’all knew there’d be a but, right?) really, hmm, if it’s so fine, and you dig my style and so on…erm…what else do you want? Gimme a clue maybe and I’ll see if I have something that works.

Ho hum, onwards….

Oh, and yes, dear writing chums, I hear you, I will send them elsewhere, I will keep faith, I’m not unhappy, I’m merely pondering.

: )

Subbing frenzy (aka~ well, I sent a few flashes out.)

I am so shit at subbing. Once in a while I’ll sit down and really devote time to the process, but mostly I just whine about being rejected, and totally ignore the “get it back out there” advice of writing pals. It’s like I’ll give it one shot, and if someone doesn’t fall on it and say yes, I don’t quite love it enough any more. I do have one story that I have sent out 8 times. That’s a major amount of attempts for me. But I have a rather rare to me self confidence about it. I think it is good, dammit. It’s come close a couple of times. I have had an editor ask me to change it a bit, and I refused, because I am CONVINCED that it is good as is. I had another Ed say that they nearly published it but at the very last minute they didn’t. No reason. Weird. Anyway, I sent it back out today, this time to a female editor, because it suddenly struck me that maybe that would help.

All the place I sent to today are zines that I read and consider chock full of good quality writing. And, I didn’t even sim sub. Ah, the heady feeling of hope mixes with the blah inevitability of rejection. I’ll get used to it eventually. Perhaps.


I subbed a piece back in June, and heard no more until this week, a wait of 5 months. I got a strange rejection. It was kind, but maddening too. The editors said:

Many thanks for your submission. It was shortlisted and shortshort… and… sorry, it was unlucky. If the coin had flipped the other way… Pure bad luck. There’s not really any other way to explain the fact that it didn’t get in the mag. We get a lot of submissions and sometimes pieces miss out. There’s no perfect way of making the final selection…

Please accept our apologies. We hope you will send us something for a future issue.

All the best,

It’s nice that they took the time to respond, it’s great that it wasn’t a form rejection, it’s cool that they short listed and “short short” listed. But. It was bad luck that they didn’t choose it? A flip of a coin? Oh.

Edgy fucking litzine bollocks

I don’t rate Duotrope as much as some do, and I don’t often look at it, but this week I did, to see what’s new. And I came across a magazine looking for subs, and if I am honest, it was the title of the magazine that appealed probably. I sent a flash piece that I had worked in an online writers group (which I mention only so you know it wasn’t just some random spewing), and I got a very fast response.
The editor said he didn’t like it, he thought it was unrefined and sloppy writing that needed revision. Right. Cheers. Anyway, I thought he was a bit rude, but assumed he is a young dude trying to make a name as a fearsome editor of scrupulously worded fiction.

I told a writer friend, who went to a greeking generator and mixed up some chunks of random text with expletives, and sent it to the editor along with a preposterous bio.

You know what happened right?

Yup, accepted with thanks, and published.

I’m not gonna give this Ed and his mag any more exposure by naming them, but I really don’t feel so sad about my rejection now that I understand the quality of the work he is aiming for.

It’s one thing to have high standards, but to mistake words from a generator for experimental literary fiction is really very funny.

Highs, lows, blah di blah

I felt fairly chipper yesterday. A couple of things happened that made me feel a bit happy. Writing related things that made me feel part of something, as if I’m not being delusional about wanting to be a writer. That’s one of my big fears, deluding myself. I try to be honest with myself, you know, pat on the back when I think I’ve done well, slap round the chops when I’m slacking off. When I was young everyone I knew was in a band. My best friend is an amazing singer, my husband is a mega talented drummer, my other buddies included the worlds greatest bass player, a lot of guitarists, some keyboardists, and a fair smattering of vocalists too. And I was always the audience. I never wanted to be up there on stage with them, always knew that writing was my thing. Lots of them were really talented. Others were tragic. Really, truly shit, but they thought they were awesome, strutting about bloated with self importance. I would look at them, and tell myself that I was never ever to start to think I was something I am not.
I still check myself now. Am I any good? I dunno. Sometimes I think yes, other times I’m very fragile and think I’m just another one of those foolish wannabes.
Anyway, last night, I was fairly whoo hoo. Then today I got a reject. I hate the whole subbing, hoping, judging process. When a piece is out it can be a wonderful time. It feels buzzy because I have been proactive enough to get off my fat butt and sub. There is hope in the air. Dreams. And an acceptance is a beautiful validating thing. It says, yes, you do have something, yes this is good. Then come the rejections. Sometimes they are nothing more than a moments disappointment. Sometimes they sting a little. The one I got today shook me though. The writing I sent is good. It has been judged highly in the past. It is my best. People have said very positive things about it. It didn’t even make a long shortlist. There weren’t that many entries, and it didn’t make the grade. I feel stupid, embarrassed, and to be truthful, I guess a tiny voice inside is asking if I am like one of those kids with my guitar, making a public fool of myself.


It may be bad form to talk openly about rejections, but really, fuck that, it’s such a part of this writing lark. If one submits stories to good quality magazines there are bound to be some rejections. We all know that no writer has a ‘hit’ rate of a hundred percent. I vowed to send work out, and in my own small (fairly timid) way I am. It’s kinda new to me though, so I am still learning markets. 
I have had a really encouraging rejection from an excellent magazine. The editor said he felt I’d have no problem placing the story elsewhere, but that it was more mainstream than the type of work he favours. He praised parts, suggested a change even and made the whole rejection blow an easy one. 
I had a couple of flat form rejects.
I have had a couple of nothings…HOW RUDE!
And I have had a reject that said the work was ‘bitterly clever’ ‘dry, witty, realistic’ ‘nicely crafted’  but concluded that whilst ‘someone who appreciates fine fiction may read on, the average reader might not’.
I keep mulling that over. Fine writing is an insult suggesting purple prose, pretension, florid language etc. I am certain that my writing is not flouncy in that way at all. I was converted by reading Bukowski long ago, I don’t do flowery bollocks, and if I did, how would that then be ‘dry, witty and realistic’?
Ach! I don’t want to sound all sour grapes, but I don’t think I’ll sub to them again as I don’t ‘get’ what they mean. I am more bothered by their rejection than any other I have had, because I can’t make sense of it. It’s not that I thought my piece was ace, it’s that that their message confuses me. 
Anyway I am not going to write for some ‘market’, I’m going to carry on writing my words, for me, and then see if they’ll fit anywhere. I can’t possibly tailor work to anyones individual preferences except my own.
In fact, right now, I’ll borrow a line from a Barenaked Ladies song “I can’t hear a thing, cause I’ve stopped listening, ‘ and I’ll quietly get on.


I love writing. I love reading. I love telling stories. I love words. It’s my thing. Most people have a thing, whether it’s a love of art/music/film or a need to make minute sculpture, or juggle or garden, or…well, anything. Words are my thing. The essence of it is my desire to communicate I suppose. I write something and I am telling a story, and sending it out to strangers, because I want my story read. Sometimes they see something good in it, they like it, they want it, understand it. And I feel elated, understood and validated. Other times they see something in it that I was unaware was there. They may tell me they thought the way I did x or y was clever/funny or some such, and I will be amazed at this. I haven’t known that it was there, I don’t feel I can take credit for it as it was unconsciously placed. It is magic. That too feels wonderful.

But these words sent out with hope sometimes are ignored, or worse yet, rejected. I enter a competition, and I dream of winning, or of maybe being in the top 3 say, and I get nowhere. It is a rejection. Or I submit a story, and hear back, no thanks, try again. I feel despondent, untalented. They didn’t like my words, so they weren’t good enough words, so I’m not a good enough writer. And I tell myself over and over that reading is subjective, and what one person loves another finds leaves them cold. I know I should just send that story right back out, but I don’t. It has failed, I have failed.

It’s a nervy thing, I am trying to face down my fears and submit work. I currently have 3 pieces out somewhere.

Checking my emails makes me anxious.

The winners of the Pulp.Net/Bloomsbury competition were notified today. Not me then. Ho hum.