Here I am taking a post on my not-week because I am so lousy at remembering which week I’m supposed to be doing. It can’t hurt though right?
There are a ton of things I love about GFP. Getting to read excellent things, even if we never use them. Seeing positive reviews about our products. Navigating the rocky streams that are distribution and discovery. Building relationships with retailers. (I lie, that’s one of the things I don’t like, but view as a necessary evil.)
The major thing I don’t like? Having to reject people.
Yeah, I was surprised too. I thought I was much more of a sadist than I apparently am. (Arguably because I don’t know the people on the other end…) There are some rejections that don’t bother me in the least. If you send me crap work, or just plain offensive things under the flag of “being different” or “punk” then boom, here’s my form letter.
But when stories are really good and I don’t have a place for them? It hurts. I want to hold onto those stories because I will have a place. I will! Just as soon as we finish creating it. They’re like favorite teddy bears that I want to hug close to me and keep forever because if I release them *some other editor who is not me* will get them. I am happy to be selfish. (Also, note to writers, sometimes not hearing back from us? That’s a *very* good thing because it might mean that we’re arguing about where it will go, or if it will look nice in that shiny mythical project we haven’t started yet. It can also mean that we’re overwhelmed by things like the holidays, but there’s hope.)
There are things I send that certainly will feel like form rejections to the author on the other side. They’re very simple and say something like “we won’t be accepting” without any sort of feedback. Please be aware, those are all hand-typed. I personalized it just for you. It wasn’t a plug and play response. Sometimes, I get to toss in a little positive reinforcement or a special thing we liked. Other times, it means that there was nothing necessarily wrong, but we don’t have a place for the story.
If we see a spark in a story? Oh, heck yes, we will be willing to work with the author. We’ve sent back edit letters on stories. We’ve sent writing advice. We’ve even begged people to write the books which the stories so desperately hint at. (And I am crossing my fingers that some of those authors *do* take our advice and send us back some stories.)
But the migraines? Those come from the stress of telling people no. I have been (and still am) on the other side of that equation. I have received form rejections. I have received positive feedback. I have also had stories disappear never to be heard from again. Every time I send out a response that doesn’t have something beyond the basic “no thanks” my heart dies a little bit. I want to be able to make everyone get a personalized answer, but I just can’t do it.
Some nights, all I can do is clean out the “to be sent” folder until my eyes hurt and my brain tries to escape through my ears.
The millipedes in the title? That would be the slush pile of a thousand stories, authors, and decisions. It’s big. It’s a little scary. And sometimes, it’s painted a bright happy pink.