Whilst unpacking boxes yesterday I came across my first ever rejection. It was for a story I submitted to Interzone when I was eighteen called “…Just a dream”.
Back then I considered myself a SF writer. I was a massive Star Wars fan (always have been, always will be) and thought that meant I had to be a SF writer. I was writing a SF book, that looking back now I realise was just fantasy set in space (like Star Wars) and finding it difficult to connect with a lot of SF literature. No wonder then that the story itself was rubbish.
Looking at it now, it’s cringe-worthy and I’m under no illusion why they rejected it. There’s no story to it, no character arc, just eighteen year old me trying to be clever with a nursery rhyme. That’s it; that’s all it is.
What was great was that as well as the standard rejection letter, I got a detailed handwritten response. There were some hard truths and solid advice in that letter but I really took them on board. I knew enough to know that getting a written response meant something. Looking back, the poor slush pile reader probably just took pity on me. But the fact that I got a personal response made me believe that I would one day make it. I’m very grateful for it.
What’s strange is that in doing a bit of research on my reader for this post, I came across my own name on the same website. Yeah, my SFF bibliography is pretty small but finding my name and a short story listed was an odd feeling. I remember the dreams of eighteen year old me, how having something published, something that could outlive you, be read and discussed hundreds of years after your death, made you almost immortal. And there I was, good ol’ immortal me.
I like to think eighteen year old me would be proud that I accomplished that dream.