Over the years, I’ve written for several projects that, for various reasons, went off the rails before my story was published. When one such story reverted to me, I filed off the shared-world serial numbers and started sending it out in search of a new home.
I assumed this story was going to be difficult to place. It is a VERY odd little tale–a cyberpunk story set in a far-future abbey, the Order of St. Hildegard. The first-person narrator is what one Trusted Reader calls a “nunbot,” and the abbess is a biological computer based upon DNA taken from the relics of St. Hildegard of Bigen. Not my usual thing, but it does incorporate several familiar themes: music, history, and the complexity of human nature.
(NOTE: The image shows the shrine that holds the saint’s relics. In the story, the computer’s cabinet is a reproduction of this.)
So far this year, “Synthetic Sanctity” has garnered five rejections. I do think it will find a home eventually. In the meanwhile, it’s a busy little ambassador, introducing editors to my work and, for the most part, garnering responses along the lines of “This one didn’t quite work for us, but send more.”
My point, and I do have one, is that rejections are not something to be feared, avoided, or mourned. To the contrary. Submitting a short story again and again helps build the “persistence habit,” and for me, at this point in time, that’s a valuable process.
The novel I’m working on is quite different from anything I’ve published. It’s bigger in both length and scope. Simply put, it’s a stretch. I’m determined (bordering on “obsessed”) but I’m finding that short story rejections form very useful calluses on the psyche. Anyone who has ever played any stringed instrument will know exactly what I mean. You can’t pick up the guitar or violin after months (or years!) away and play for hours the first time back. You’ve got to toughen up first. Every rejection leaves you a little bit tougher, a little better prepared to play longer and perform better.