I’ve been writing short fiction for a while now, having taken up the pen (or the laptop to be more precise) quite seriously from 2014 onwards. A few very short pieces had been published before that as well, but around that time I decided to take it upon myself to see if I could actually write a coherent discernible story at all or not, before attempting bigger and far more ambitious novels.
The two stories published this year, one in Funny Pearls and the second in don’t die press, were my fortieth and forty-first publications respectively. I have two more stories accepted already, which will be published in the coming months.
Its been a wonderful journey peppered with rejections, personal notes from editors and of course the inevitable acceptances. I have to say that writing short fiction is quite addictive! Throughout 2014 and 2015, I completed one short story a month, of anywhere between 1500 to 4000 words. I did this quite religiously and you might have read my previous posts on The Short Story Challenge. This period was very fruitful not just because of the amount I wrote but also because as part of the group challenge, we critiqued each other’s stories and received critiques as well. This gave me an excellent understanding of the problems that usually arise and how I should address them. It also told me my strengths and weaknesses better than any amount of self-reflection.
As I inch closer to a half-century, I can confidently say I’ve learnt quite a few valuable lessons in the process.
Have faith in your story
With a very few exceptions, almost all my stories have been rejected multiple times before finding a suitable home. But I persisted, knowing that I was sending out a quality product.
Know when to revise
If every submission for a particular story results in only form rejections, then it means the story needs revision, in either the plot or the execution. I used to avoid rewriting stories in such situations but nowadays I embrace it whole-heartedly.
Meet the theme but with a twist
Themed submissions stand the best chance of acceptance. By this I mean, whenever a publication floats a theme, send a story that matches the theme, is well-written but offers something unique, then the chances of acceptance are quite high. Note that rejections may still come in if the idea is overdone.
Read the journal you are submitting to
Don’t submit to a journal unless you have read at least a few stories or essays from it, preferably even one sample issue end-to-end.
Persevere through the rejections
Submitting to literary journals is a numbers game. So, don’t let the rejections get you down. Write, revise, submit, repeat!
In other news I submitted a last-minute entry to the Bath Flash Fiction Award in a spurt of enthusiasm, that earned me this wonderful badge!
What else is happening with you? Let me know in the comments!