A writer friend recently asked if I'd ever had a story tentatively accepted for an anthology, then not make the final cut.
"Yes, and I'm still trying to learn to not count my chickens before they hatch," I confessed.
Recent example: Several months ago I got a permission release for one of my favorite stories, "Choosing Shoes Blues," from Chicken Soup for the Soul. It was being considered for Family Matters. I'd not been in the Chicken coop since last year's What I Learned from the Cat, so was tickled, and immediately began to think of who in our family would love to receive this book for Christmas. Shortly thereafter I got an additional permission request for "From Nuisance to Blessing," for Think Positive.
"Wowser! Two books for holiday gifts!!"
Not quite. I began to realize I hadn't seen the page proofs for the Family Matters book and the publication date was approaching fast. Sure enough, I opened my e-mail one morning and there was an update: I'd been cut at the last minute.
Nonetheless, I continued to "Think Positive," and that book will appear in September. I've also been asked to sign permission slips for a couple of stories for Chicken's Grieving and Recovery, and will keep my drumsticks crossed.
I've had three other instances of making the finals for other prospective books, and then been cut. I've found homes for two of those stories, but still am looking for a place for my tale that didn't edge into The Ultimate Gardener. I've also had stories accepted by books that never quite materialized...some because of the recession, some because a similar collection had been published earlier.
Am I bothered by rejection? Well, nobody likes to get turned down. Nonetheless, I like to reassure myself that it's always a judgment call. What might be one editor's "not for me," might be another's "yes, indeedy." Others have shared that thought:
"I discovered that rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgment and to say in his heart of hearts, to hell with you."-Saul Bellow
"The vital point to remember is that the swine who just sent your pearl of a story back with nothing but a coffee-stain and a printed rejection slip can be wrong. You cannot take it for granted that he is wrong, but you have an all-important margin of hope that might be enough to keep you going."- Brian Stableford
"We keep going back, stronger, not weaker, because we will not allow rejection to beat us down. It will only strengthen our resolve. To be successful there is no other way." -Earl Graves
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