The person with whom I share a marriage license wrote two short stories several years ago, and I think they’re awesome. I’m not saying this as a starry-eyed wifey because I assure you, I’ve hated some of his other work and have no problem bleeding comments all over his pages.
These stories are awesome because they resonate with me and do things with fiction I seldom see. He had some luck publishing poetry and flash fiction with a couple of small magazines, so he decided to submit both pieces to a dozen-ish journals and contests. Unfortunately, he got nowhere. He shrugged the rejections off and stopped writing and submitting literary work. He did, however, publish the featured article in a law review, and I’m very proud of him for that. He’s also working on a graphic novel, which I’m even more excited about.
BUT. Those two unpublished stories stuck with me. I thought it was a shame he didn’t keep submitting, so when I started sending my own pieces to lit mags again, I asked if I could submit his work on his behalf. He reluctantly agreed, so I submitted them to a handful of markets.
Jesus Christ, I am not smart sometimes. There’s a more sinister side effect to this endeavor that didn’t fully sink in when I first started:
Receiving rejections for his work stings 3298743298473928473928 times more than my own rejections.
It’s weird, but I have way more faith in his work than mine. I’m sure there’s some self-esteem component in there I need to discuss with my therapist, but at the same time, there’s more to it than that. Taking on his work after he gave up on it felt like sheltering a couple of shivering white bunnies only to have a wolf slaughter them with sharp and wretched canines.
The rejection was a good one, but I’m still bummed. Apparently the piece sparked a lot of debate among the editors, and they encouraged him to submit other work in the future. The journal has a one-percent acceptance rate, so honestly, what was I expecting?
It’s almost an insult to my choice in a spouse. If the writing industry could be personified, I imagine this hipster child:
And do you know what that hipster child is saying to me?
Your work doesn’t fit neatly in a box, and oh hey, the person you married is just as weird even though I say I want weird and fresh things, but anyway, I don’t like him either so please, both of you, kindly get the fuck out of my party.
Of course, not all of the writing industry is this way, but a lot of it is. Still, I need to continue to seek out someone who does want us at their party. Furthermore, my experiences with rejection are not unique, so I’m going to need to find some way to not let the hipster demon child get to me. I’m still working on it.