Rejection, Dejection, Commendation, and Inspiration

Quite a ride on the Aspiring Writers’ Emotional Tilt-A-Whirl yesterday. I checked my email just before leaving for work to find that my second submission to a publisher has been swiftly rejected. Nothing heartbreaking or earth shattering there; to be honest, I’m not completely surprised. The novella was not necessarily the best fit for the publisher. Despite my twisted nature, this story is more of a conventional, straight-ahead crime story, and was probably not “dark” enough for them. That’s okay, I will continue submitting. That being said, I was able to express exactly how I felt upon receiving the news with two simple words:

Well, shit.

Even though I may not have been surprised, it was still a crappy way to start the day. I spent the drive to work wondering if there was anything I overlooked in regards to the plot or characters. After thinking it over, I still feel pretty confident that it’s a solid piece of work. I’ll take the advice of an excellent fellow writer whose opinion I trust and continue to submit at least a few more times before I let the succubus of self-doubt start to creep back in.

At 10am, however, I was still fighting off gloom and grumpiness when I took my morning break and checked my email again – because, you know, the publisher may have changed their mind. What I found instead was a message from Readwave, the Pinterest-type website for writers and readers where I’ve been publishing most of my short stories, telling me that my latest short story, Blue Skies, was chosen as a Staff Pick, and was promptly getting moved to the site’s front page. What good news! It may not have been ‘hey, we love this 28,000 word novella you spent hours and hours writing and editing’ good, but it still brightened my day considerably. After feeling a bit low for a couple hours, here was confirmation I had really been needing for a while – to know my writing doesn’t suck.

I’ve gotten plenty of wonderful words of encouragement here on the blog, and I’m extremely grateful for all the comments, especially on the infamous Freshly Pressed post; it’s really boosted my confidence, which is an area where I’m severely deficient. The thing is, my fiction is still largely unread at this point. Beta readers are damn hard to come by, and so I just keep on truckin’ with only my own opinion to go on. So to finally get a piece of mine recognized as being un-sucky felt pretty nice (shameless self-promotion: it’s only 400 words, a mere three-minute read. If you haven’t already done so, check it out here. Go on, I’ll wait.).

The final thing that’s been going on with me over the past few days is inspiration. You see, all the writing I’ve been doing over the past year and a half, these two novellas and the (will it or won’t it turn out to be a) novel I’m working on are all ideas that have been in my head for a long time. Several years, actually. I began to worry once I got them all written I wouldn’t have another single good idea. I managed to crank a few short stories out of thin air, but nothing else had lit a spark in this tar pit I call a brain. Until, that is, something did.

If I told you exactly what lit the spark it would sound like the corniest thing you’ve ever heard (oh, screw it, I’ll tell you-it was the song Santa Claus is Coming to Town). But it stuck, and within ten minutes I had ideas bouncing around and colliding with each other like coked-out pinballs. This is the first time since I started writing again that I’ve had an honest to goodness moment of inspiration, and it feels invigorating. I can’t outline and research fast enough; I just want to start writing the damn thing. Which brings me to a bit of a problem. I have a rough draft in need of some serious TLC, and I don’t want to just chuck it aside for something new. I’ll have to judiciously divide my time, writing during the week when I only have limited time, and editing and rewriting on weekends when I have a little more time to focus and pay more attention to detail.

One last fairly random item: I’m planning on going on a ride along with the local Police Department in the very-near future. This new Big Idea I got involves police procedure to a degree I’ve never written about before, mostly because I’m ignorant to it all. I figured what better way to learn than to get in the patrol car and hit the streets with the real deal. Has anyone done this before? I was planning on riding with one of my good friends when I lived in California, but things got in the way and it never happened. If it’s interesting at all I’m sure I’ll make a post out of it.

In the meantime, I’m going to get some rainy day weekend sleep (is there any better kind?) and get busy writing. Feel free to share your moments of pure creative inspiration, your own highs and lows on the emotional tilt-a-whirl, or your experiences with the police (good or bad) in the comments below.

Published by Kenneth Jobe

Kenneth Jobe is a writer, photographer, musician, and Native Californian living in the Midwest with his wife and son. His fiction has been published in Jitter, The Rusty Nail, Ghostlight: The Magazine of Terror, and the horror anthology Robbed of Sleep, Volume 2.

9 thoughts on “Rejection, Dejection, Commendation, and Inspiration

  1. Loved the short story! (just read it)
    I know exactly how you feel… It’s so difficult to finish something, while you have all these new ideas spinning through your head. I’m really curious as to how ‘Santa Claus is coming to town’ can inspire you, but hey, it helped 😉 Good luck with the editing as well as the new story/stories!

    1. You know, I was in the middle of doing something in the yard and the tune just popped in my head but with different, very twisted lyrics. It’s also related to that short story, with the two “baby-faced” teenagers. I guess whatever works, right? 🙂

  2. Inspiration, for me, always comes from the strangest places.
    I’m actually afraid to ask for help with research. How does one get a ride along, anyway? I always feel as though anyone I ask, even for an interview, will regard me as though I’m crazy before they simply ignore me.
    Your story is fantastic, by the way. You’re an incredible writer, if that was any indication of how you normally write fiction. 🙂

    1. As far as I know, most PD’s offer ride alongside to the general public. In my case, I sent an email to ask and got a reply saying I needed to contact my local substation a week advance, pass a background check, and wear dress clothes (?). I do wonder what kinds of things to ask them, though. I picture them rolling their eyes a lot.

  3. Wow, that story is so sad, but beautiful.

    I have a lot of great experiences with the police, but only because I’m married to one of them. 🙂 You’re fortunate to be able to do a ride-along. They don’t do those here.

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