I am typing this on my phone while waiting to board a plane back home to Miami. My arms are going numb from holding my laptop and I am debating if I have time to sit down and type this out properly or if I am doomed. My phone I can probably charge on the flight. But we are landing after midnight so whatever words I want to get down have to be taken down fast.
Shimmer, we have known each other for eight years. I know this by going back to my records on Gmail and going back to the latest date. My first few submissions were amateurish at the time, making rookie mistakes. I sent in the same story twice, and forgot about the RTF rule or even sending in an attachment to go with the email. You were patient. At one point you nearly accepted a flash piece I wrote for fiction workshop, only to turn it down after a group editors meeting. I didn’t feel down about it because I knew there was submissions, and time. There was always time. Or so i thought.
The years passed. I kept submitting. You kept rejecting, more with notes than without them, and for that I am grateful. Because you wanted me. At least, I hope you wanted me. My confidence diminished with every passing year and every passing rejection. I sent in less stories, convinced I would anger you into not providing personal feedback.
Shimmer, I will miss you. I am sad that I could never write the story that was quite the perfect fit. It feels unfair, in all honesty. You went pro; and that meant your rates went up. I understand you didn’t accept much, to the bitter end. You had to have a specific tone for your magazine. When I asked with polite exasperation what that meant, since obviously I like to apply smarter and not harder, you said that you couldn’t specify and that you’d know.
Maybe there is no point in trying to please the pros like you. I could only guess what you wanted, and it wasn’t what I was submitting. My story didn’t have the emotional pathos needed, or enough scares to justify the fantasy. I’m still learning how to write, and I don’t know how to scare people.
By the last story, I knew it was no go. For your finale, all I knew was that I could only submit my best. I wrote my last submission in the middle of heavy deadlines while listening to soundtracks and bouncing prose off friends. They said it was a solid story.
You had 313 stories to read. Only a handful could run in your last issue. Two of my friends submitted and got rejected around the same time I did. But we tried. It was a glorious failure. And if I were to fail, at least I failed with my best, and that’s not failing at all.
I will say thank you for letting me try. Thank you for not posting my submission mishaps on Twitter. Thank you for that one last attempt to try.