Today, another story of mine was accepted for publication.
I tried to be excited. But something just felt off.
The story was one that I wrote almost ten years ago, while an undergraduate. That particular fall semester, I was taking both a creative writing fiction course and a seminar on the American War Novel. That seminar was one of the most influential and wonderful experiences of my undergraduate education, and it bled into my writing that semester. This particular story was my favorite that I wrote during that creative writing course, and my instructor had given some solid, positive feedback. I had submitted it for publication back then, but it was rejected.
It sat on my hard drive all these years, and I only reopened it this past spring when I had begun writing again in earnest. I could see some weaknesses and flaws right away. I worked with it and revised it numerous times. I was happier, but there still seemed to be something off. There were things about it that still didn’t ring true, and it just continued to feel a bit “amateur” to me. I convinced myself that it was because I’d originally written it so long ago.
Then, I sent it out again to three places. The first rejected it within days. But, today, one of them accepted it—with some edits.
When I found out they had some edits and suggestions, my stomach immediately dropped. I almost didn’t even open the document they had attached. Instead, I wanted to just revel in the feeling of acceptance and avoid reading what was “wrong” with the story. The thing is, though, I knew there were some things wrong with the story.
So, I opened the document. And, behold, they nailed it on the head.
The issues that I’d been struggling with were identified right there in front of me. While I didn’t necessarily agree with 100% of their edits, the main crux of them were so directly spot on, I could have wept with joy. It’s so difficult for me–as an editor myself–to accept and recognize that I can’t always be objective in my own writing. I struggle to edit myself effectively, and I have to remember that this is okay. I need to focus on the writing and let someone else give me feedback and ideas because without them, stories live in a vacuum and I’ll continue to be bothered by these little bits of, “No. That’s not quite it…,” on and on.
So, now, not only will this story that means so much to me be published, but it will be published in the best possible version imaginable.
Now, I’m really excited.