Also, earlier this week I got one from somebody I like a lot and so rejected his story from Damned Nation with a somewhat heavy heart. I also sent him one of my rare personal emails explaining exactly what Dave and I thought the story’s strengths and weaknesses were, with advice on how it could be reworked for submission elsewhere. That was a while ago. He wrote this week to say that he’d taken the advice to heart and sent the resulting edit out and it looks like it’s gotten placed in a very cool market.

Yeah, I am that somebody.*

This is going to be one of those “appreciate good editors” blogs. I sent a story in for consideration for the Damned Nation anthology. As soon as I hit the send button, I was hit with this feeling of “crap, there is something wrong with the story.” (Why this feeling couldn’t hit me right before the feeling of “I crap gold, baby” euphoria that I usually get right before I hit the send button, I don’t know. All I know is that I’m reduced to yelling at my screen “information that would have been handy FIVE MINUTES AGO!”) Anyway, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong, but I had an idea of what the problem was. I had been working on a sermon (Putting Your Life Back Together After Its Been Blown to Crap and A Dark Night of the Soul) and had been wrestling with the themes of losing one’s faith and how one struggles through such crises of faith. Sure enough, I got a rejection letter. In it, Robert quite pointedly asked “were you working on a sermon when you wrote this?”

Hmm. Mayhaps my story might have been a little preachy (shut up Chesya!). A re-write was in order.

It’s rare that you get an editor willing to write a personal rejection/critique letter. I try not to begrudge editors for sending out form letters. When you get hit with hundreds or thousands of submissions, it’s hard to find the time to do personal rejections. They take up more time to do, and let’s face it, we writers are already complaining about the long response times as is. However, we also like feedback. Something to quell the voice inside us that says “if you don’t like my child, please tell me what is wrong. What’s wrong with my baby? Don’t let me send him out into the hostile world with some deformity that I can fix!!!” Or, maybe that’s just me. That’s a long way to go to say that some of my best/favorite rejection letters have been those when an editor took the time to tell me what was wrong with the story. You only improve if you know what to fix.

Rejection letters can be your best writing friends … once you get up from their initial punch.

The long and short of it is that I put together a much better story thanks to Robert and Dave. And, I just received the official acceptance letter today from the next market that I sent it to: Brandon Massey’s Dark Dreams III (due out in 2007). I’ll give you the details about it closer to the publication date. It’s been a good month for me. This is the second story I’ve sold this month. More details on that other project later also.

*Of course, I’m not the first story rejected from the aforementioned anthology that ended up sold in another market. Nor apparently was I the only one with a personalized rejection letter. Luckily, we’re all friends. Kumbaya …

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