I'll be writing more about how to handle writing rejection and turn it into a positive step for your career soon, but today I want to highlight one example. My story "Spitting Image" is up today at Tamsin Flowers' Supererotica Advent calendar. I recommend reading all the entries; you can start with day 1, which features "Fallen" by Tamsin Flowers.
She's asking readers to donate to these charities, if you're so inclined: Crisis, The Albert Kennedy Trust or Coalition for the Homeless.
I'm thrilled to have a new, original story free for you to read, because most of my writing lately has been nonfiction, with my only new erotic fiction stories appearing in my recent and upcoming anthologies such as Come Again, Dirty Dates and Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 1.
What's especially gratifying for me about this particular story is that I had submitted it to an anthology and gotten good feedback on it, only to later have it be rejected. Of course, I was disappointed. I wondered: What's wrong with my oral sex sensuous spit story? Was I foolish to expect it to make the cut? Am I bad at the male POV?
But then I smartly shook my head, drew up my shoulders, and decided to send my little tale out in the world. I was proud of it and didn't need to take one person's no for an answer. So I sent it to Tamsin and she loved it! Now, I'm not saying it's "good" because someone else approved of it; I don't believe in that. "Good" is by and large subjective—and yes, I say that as someone who teaches erotica writing classes and does believe anyone, certainly including myself, can improve and deepen their writing. But at the end of the day, you can't make someone like your work. You can't insist they read it or appreciate it. You can only work to find what Jennifer Lee calls in Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way your "right peeps." Tamsin is one of my right peeps, and I'm thrilled she chose my story for her project.
No matter what form it takes, rejection isn't fun. I'm actually already dreading having to do it for my next call for submissions, which I hope to have posted in the next few weeks (yes, it's awful to be on the side doing the rejecting too). But it's also part of writing (and dare I say, also part of life), and is why I recommended the podcast Behind the Prose with Keysha Whitaker, because in one episode I listened to, she said, "Getting rejected is part of the process. If you're not getting rejected, that means you're not writing." Sorry, I can't remember the exact episode, but what's great about her podcast is she opens by talking about her writing acceptances and rejections. She normalizes rejection, which is good because she's absolutely right: whether you're talking about fiction or nonfiction, rejection is part and parcel of the process of sending out your work.
The only way to never get rejected is to never submit anything, which is also a valid choice, and not one I mean to malign, but if your goal is to be read by a wide audience, unless you're building that audience via self-publishing or a blog or podcast or some other means, you will need to risk your work being rejected by someone. Once, I was determined to break into a certain online literary journal. I thought that doing so would mean I'd "made it," that I was smart and cool and as good a writer as someone I was desperately jealous of. I submitted three times (and this is one that charges a small fee to submit) before I realized I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I didn't stop submitting because I was afraid of rejection, which had already happened, but because that particular quest was pointless and the rejections were hitting me way too hard (so hard that one led to one of the worst and craziest decisions of my life, which is also a story for another day, but let's just say something illegal was involved in my post-rejection stupor).
I made the leap of risking rejection with this story, "Spitting Image," twice; once my story got the boot, and once it got a thumbs up. It's still the same story, and it's not a "better" or "sexier" story because someone said yes to it. What it is is available for you to read for free. I hope you like it!
Labels: Advent calendar, charity, erotic fiction, erotica, fiction, free story, oral sex, Rachel Kramer Bussel, rejection, short stories, short story, Spitting Image, taking risks, Tamsin Flowers, writing