A Shot In The Arm

Over the last year I have been writing a lot of short stories that have to do with climate change, I have had some successes. Stories have appeared in the UK and abroad, and the stories have aided me to build a world that is making me decidedly grumpy and pissed off with people who think that they will save the future by sorting out their plastics. Sadly, the real cost of what needs to be done most people won’t want to pay but they will pay it later even if they don’t want to. Hence my stories. Early on in the experiment I started to write two stories in dialect (this is always a big no-no in writing but I wanted to have a go), they were the bookends of a protagonist’s life, his growth into being a man and then his descent towards death. I was really happy last week when I got an email about the latter which I had submitted to a prestigious anthology. It was one of those mad moments where I thought, ‘What the hell? If they reject me I can add it to the pile’. I waited. I waited. There was no response. I thought maybe I had gone beyond rejection to being reviled and no one would ever say my name at that publication again. I mean they get literally a deluge of submissions each time they put the call out for short stories. Then they emailed me, hold your breath:

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‘Your work impressed our reading team and was one of 39 submissions shortlisted by our editors for further consideration. This is a great achievement, given the exceptionally high quality of submissions we received.

The final selection process – which also takes into account what works best for the collection as a whole – was even more difficult than usual, and unfortunately your piece was not one of those chosen for inclusion in this year’s publication.

We hope that you will continue to submit your work to us in the future’

Damn right, I will. I got down to the final 39! The final 39! Let’s just consider that…39! Out of hundreds. My rejection came down to the fact the story wasn’t a good fit for the collection. My work is of a high quality in their book. That means something when you’re alone hammering away at keyboard. So, here’s what I have learnt, take risks, write what the story demands (even dialect), submit to those publications you think would dismiss you because it is better to have been rejected than to have never tried. 39! Bring on the fight!

You can follow me here each Wednesday through the #clifimadness project which chronicles my research into climate change and how addressing it in fiction, the novel form, may be the answer to reaching a wider audience. I will chronicle my everyday ramblings on twitter and Facebook, please sign up for info there.

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