Sunday, October 12, 2008

Slowly Climbing Up the Ladder

On Sunday night of this past week, I said to Damien that I was beginning to feel discouraged. I had, the day before, received three different rejections on the same day, and for the past few weeks I’ve been receiving a fairly steady stream of rejections in the mail. By now, I’m so used to rejections they don’t bother me at all . . . unless, it turns out, I open up my PO Box and find a full stack of them waiting for me.

As someone who has toiled on both sides of the literary journal machine (as one who reads submissions and as one who writes and submits them), I have a pretty thorough understanding of how little rejections often mean. It could be as simple as the editor skipped breakfast that morning and wasn’t able to concentrate as they half-assedly read your piece, or maybe that the topic you’re exploring is one that the editor is just not personally interested in. Rejections, as I said, don’t bother me.

But three in one day . . .

I was beginning to wonder if I was deluding myself. If, in my case, the rejections did mean something more. If my stuff was any good wouldn’t someone somewhere want to publish it? On Sunday night I mentioned to Damien that it was a good thing I set a monthly goal to send 10 submissions each month, otherwise I was likely to give up, for the time being, on submitting at all.

Onward and upward and all that, Damien told me. Chin up and have faith and I like your stuff.

And the next day I received an acceptance, and not just any acceptance, my first acceptance from a paying journal. I can actually say I sold a story. For money. Someone liked my story enough to pay me for the right to print it.

This is a small but important step, just like getting that first acceptance from a small, non-paying journal was. Just like getting an acceptance from a larger journal with a bigger circulation will be. And just like (one day) getting an acceptance from a more prestigious journal, a national journal, a journal that you can tell your folks to pick up at their local bookstore.

It may seem like a small thing (let’s be honest, I’m only getting like $30 plus contributor’s copies and a free subscription), but it is a big small thing, an important one. I’m another rung up the ladder, now, and I feel like I’m making progress. I’m slowly but surely moving up and I feel (perhaps temporarily but hey, it still counts) reinvigorated to keep working at it, keep striving, so I can work towards moving that next short rung up.


Monsieur le Peep said...

Way to go, lady! Congrats! Don't leave us in suspense. What's the journal?

Ashley Cowger said...

Thanks! It's the New Ohio Review. I think it's a pretty small circulation journal but it's exciting to be getting paid. By the by, LOVE your new book, Melina! Keep up the fabulous work, as always.

Damien Cowger said...

Congratulations baby! I'm so proud of you and am inspired by you everyday. I want to be a writer like you when I grow up!

Master Dayton said...

Way to go, Ashley! I've had contests where I won and got paid for that (but not published), but I also received my first paid sale these past couple weeks. $10 for a flash fiction sci-fi story on an online journal, but like you said, it's a big small thing. Keep it up!