Just received rejection notices on two pieces of short fiction. While I’m pleased with both stories, I realize the markets were not a fit and so I’m setting the manuscripts aside for later consideration. I have been asked why I continue writing and submitting short stories when I have a multi-book contract with a publisher. Well, one thing I like about writing is how every author, no matter how famous, undergoes some variation of the submission cycle and copes with periodic rejection. It keeps us all humble and serves as a reminder to me of the importance of continuing to develop my craft. Periodicals and publishers may come and go, but the writer remains. It’s up to each one of us to maintain a certain level of relevance and visibility.
I often find writers blogging or Facebooking about current events, inserting their bon mot. This is well and good, and probably a smart move as regards maintaining career visibility and remaining relevant, but I’m not built that way. I should probably blog more, but I’m reluctant to post unless I have something substantive to say. I tend to admire writers like Salinger and Trevanian, recluses who spoke to the public only through their work. Both operated in the typewriter age – one to which I would gladly return. The pace of correspondence on social media can be exhausting, and drains time and energy from a writer. This is something for which I am developing adaptive strategies.
It occurs to me that we live in an age of manufactured culture, of celebrity for its own sake. There is something very hollow about an artistic environment in which someone can become famous by association, wherein big film studios prefer funding high-concept remakes of known quantities and where “hit” albums are manufactured by committee. I’m often hard-pressed to find substance among this glut of American Idol music releases, big-budget superhero movies and eye-catching paperbacks churned out as part of the wholesale entertainment machine. Yes, fame and success are wonderful things, but art that achieves resonance from being rooted in personal experience is far preferable to me than something dredged from the mass media slush. So while I wish the Chef Ramseys and Justin Trudeaus and Ronda Rouseys of the world luck with their latest ghost-written tomes, I’ll happily file away my rejection e-mails and get back to work trying to write something that will hit people where they live. Because that’s my job. Not being famous.