I should never have mentioned the dearth of rejections of late. Today I received two. One was for a story that I like a lot, but can see why others may not. The other is more disappointing because I know it has an audience. It's a story that has come close to publication before, several venues holding onto it for a second look before rejecting it. I wonder what might be wrong.
That's the thing about rejections, especially the terse form rejections that are the norm from most publications: you never know what it was they didn't like. A few publications are good enough to give you a personalized response, a few lines telling you what they feel was wrong with the piece. Sometimes that's helpful, in fact, often it is, especially if you plan to submit something else to that venue. You have a better feel for what it is they want. Unfortunately, most places don't.
So we keep going, searching for the perfect venue. Do we go for the one that pays the most? Or the one with the most prestige? Do we try one with a high acceptance rate, just to boost our ego? I'm guilty of that, I have to admit. After weeks of rejection after rejection, I submitted a story to a venue with an 80% acceptance rate. And surprise, surprise. I was accepted.
But you know what? It felt cheap. I knew, even then, that I was better than that. Easy is easy for a reason, and when you see your story, something you slaved over, ensuring each comma, word or phrase was perfect in print next to another story with spelling and grammar mistakes sprinkled liberally throughout, you know it wasn't worth the little thrill of seeing the word 'accepted' in your in-box.
These days I only go for the tough ones. And that's probably why it's almost always a rejection. Maybe I'm wrong in thinking this way, because I don't exactly have a huge body of published work behind me, but I'm not in this for a one night stand. This is what I want to do, and I'm serious about it. Getting a credit for the sake of getting a credit isn't part of that. If it's not a good credit, well, I'm not sure I want it.
Does that make me a snob?