Vision: A Resource for Writers
Lazette Gifford, Editor
Vision@sff.net
Holly Lisle's Vision

You Mean Somebody Likes It?

By Krista Heiser

© 2002, Krista Heiser

Rejection never suited me.  Not even a little.  The most professional, non-aggressive, literary rejections left seeping wounds of self-doubt.   Their "thanks, but no thanks" told me little except that my work was not good enough--not good enough to publish, and certainly not good enough to earn an explanation of why it was deemed unfit. 

Once, I would have tossed the story into the trash with a defeated sigh.  I would have avoided writing out of pure self-pity.  I was, after all, untalented and unwanted.  I simply did not have whatever it was the agents or editors of this world were craving to read.  I could not consider myself a writer.

So I stopped writing -- for several years, in fact.

I became a wife, a mother, a full-time employee, and ignored the impromptu visits of so many fanciful thoughts--some in the strangest of places and at the most inappropriate times.  Not a single poem or short story found its way onto paper.  They remained locked firmly away behind a door marked "unworthy."  I was not a writer, not anymore.  So I refused to write and focused my attention on friends, family, and obligations. 

This blind refusal could not last.  Those stories begged to be told.  They haunted my waking hours and infiltrated my dreams.  My resolve wavered until one day I found myself sitting in the backyard with pen and paper in hand as I watched my boys play.  I composed two short poems that day, poems about these little cherubs.  Those poems are mine.  I wrote them for myself, not for an agent or an editor.  I wrote them because I felt compelled to write them by a force within me that refused to be ignored even one more day.

Before long, I found myself surfing the Internet in search of writing sites.   I joined one and found more encouragement there than I had ever imagined possible.  A torrent of short stories poured out of me.  I welcomed critiques and was grateful to find positives mingled throughout the helpful hints and outright corrections.  I returned the favor and soon discovered I was once again addicted to writing.  Although I hadn't attained publication, I was sharing my stories with people who seemed genuinely interested in my writing.

It hasn't even been a year since I joined that first site.  Since then I have joined one other, Holly Lisle's Forward Motion.  Again, I found encouragement and an even greater level of constructive criticism.  Many of the errors overlooked by previous readers were brought to my attention and I could chose to ignore the advice or implement it.  In many cases, I willingly agreed with the person who had taken the time and care to give such a detailed critique and I made the recommended change.  Through the help of people like these, my writing has improved.  I owe each of them my gratitude.

I owe them my first acceptance. 

Braving the risk of rejection, I submitted a short story to a small e-zine.  I knew others had done the same, and I didn't have high expectations.  The writers I was up against were no slouches.  Their work was impressive and moving.  I prepared myself for the inevitable, for the customary rejection I typically received.  Then I waited.

Since my submission had been made electronically, I received notification through email.  As I read the first few words, a stirring of excitement weakened my defenses.  The editor of the e-zine was interested!  More than that, she would pay me a small fee for the piece, which she would be featuring.  She asked for a brief bio to post on the site and offered her congratulations. 

And all I could think was….you mean somebody likes it?

This small acceptance, my very first, made me realize perhaps my dreams are not unattainable.  Perhaps I am worthy of success if I'm willing to work hard enough, accept criticism, and put my heart and soul into my work.  I think this a lesson I should have learned long ago but was too stubborn and prideful to fully grasp when I was in the grips of self-pity.