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It's been a monumental week for my writing career.
When I was in high school, just starting to take my writing career seriously, I took a book called "On Writing" by Stephen King to heart. In it, he says that he took his rejection letters and pinned them to his wall to be remembered, a kind of inspiration. Who better to mimic than the best?
With this latest rejection from Clarkesworld, my 8-penny became overwhelmed. There was no more space along its shaft for a single sheet of paper. I took it down and borrowed the largest nail my dad could find--a 16-penny nail--and, one by one, spiked the old rejections onto the new nail.
There were one hundred and seventy-three, in all. The oldest, dated January 27, 2006, was from (who else) John Joseph Adams, back when he was still an editor at Fantasy and Science Fiction. One of the next, from agent Dan Lazar, bore a hand-written note in scrawling, blue ink:
"Devin--Many thanks for sending this my way. It seems quite polished, but I'm afraid it's just not striking magic with me. Good luck with it when contacting other agents. Best, Dan Lazar."
That little note, about my first novel "The Wand Holders," meant a lot to my sixteen-year-old self. I was sad it was rejected, but I knew it sounded like a novel a fourteen-year-old kid had written. Still, I had tried, and someone somewhere who knew about such things had read it and responded to me. The system, the process, worked.
I also found some rejections for stories that were later published. Even, I found a rejection from Ray Gun Revival for "In the Lion's Den," which years later I revised and sent back to them, and it was accepted as "The Lion's Den."
There were many from agents rejecting query letters, many from small venue magazines with words of encouragement, and many from pro magazines with form letters. They all affected me in some way, and keeping them on the wall reminds me that what I'm doing, writing, is something important. It's not trivial, or a game or dare or a drunken idea. It's writing, damn it. It's what I do.
This week, I received my first professional acceptance letter. It's for a story called "Skipping Stones," and it will be published in Daily Science Fiction.
Hopefully, if I put in a lot of hard work and get a little luck, it won't be another 173 rejections until my next pro acceptance.