♫ … a story’s turned down so I turn it around,
27 stories in submission queues! ♫

Well, bottles of beer it’s not. But as a song, it’s true. I currently have 27 active story submissions.

What. The. Hell????

I’ve written a lot of short stories in the past ten years. Some of them good, some of them bad, and lots, lots more in between. Whenever I finish a story and it’s gone through critiques and edits, I get it out into the submission track as soon as possible. This is part of the process I developed to help me get over some of the worst issues of self-doubt I faced. Treat it like business, nothing more. Generate; Iterate; Circulate.

For me, this means almost always starting with the big guns. Clarkesworld first. The quick turn around for such a prestigious organization never fails to impress me, and I’m always prepped for that quick “no” and thinking about where it will go next. Then it’s on to other venues with longer waits, like Escape Pod or Lightspeed, depending on when they are open and available, and what the subject of the story is about.

The second, third, fourth submissions always take longer. Maybe I get up to seven or eight over the course of a year and a half, maybe two years. At which point, most stories get put aside for reconsideration. In Jeff terms, that means “I’m no longer confident in this work, so maybe I’ll revisit it later and either retire it or put it back out there.” Or it might simply mean it’s a longer work (novelette) and there’s no currently open paying venues that it’s right for.

Lack of confidence, though, is the number one reason a story of mine falls to the side and languishes. Confidence can be shaken despite the strengths of a story. It’s rare that, after a year, I return to a story and think “oh, right, that’s actually pretty vomitous and needs to be tossed.” There’s probably three of those total I have. A few more which require larger re-writes.

In most cases, I tweak the story a little, playing around with it, and then start submitting it again. This is what happened in February, March, and April of this year. I’d been sitting on a LOT of unpublished stories and, finding it hard to write new works, began revisiting old ones. I kept finding reasons not to discard a story, but either tweak it a little, or simply start resubmitting it as is.

The list grew to ten. Then I pushed it to fifteen. Then it reached twenty. When May came, a lot of venues opened up at the same time, and I went hog wild even as stories rolled in for Trollbreath Magazine. I’m swamped with work, yet here I was revising and submitting stories like mad.

In all honesty, a metric ton of the reason for pouring my stories back out into the world is how much the people submitting to the magazine are inspiring me. The more stories I’ve read, the more variety I’ve seen, the more I end up looking at my older work and deciding its worthy. Y’all are doing some tremendously amazing shit!

As of two days ago, I reached 27 active submissions and there’s still a half dozen or more stories I want to revisit. For the year, I’m over 55 total submissions, and I think maybe I can get to 100 total. Which would be phenomenal, and a true measure of how far I’ve come since the early 90’s, when a single rejection convinced me to give up writing almost entirely for decades.

Thank you to the people bravely submitting stories to Trollbreath. You inspire me. And I hope you’re singing your own versions of the beer bottle song as  you send another story out into the submission void. Whatever it takes to keep you writing and submitting and trying, trying, trying again. This may not be the right way to handle it for yourself, but find what works to keep you motivated.

28 stories in the submission queue, 29 stories, 30 stories, 31, 32….

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