When the Slipper Doesn’t Fit…(Finding a Silver Lining in Rejection)

As followers of this blog have already heard, I’ve been writing stories for FairyTaleMagazine.com since it began a few years ago. I can’t express enough how much I love playing around with fairy tales. It’s a niche that fits me perfectly, like Cinderella’s glass slipper. I’ve written everything from a sci-fi Hansel and Gretal story to a Little Mermaid/Hamlet smash-up and every story has re-affirmed my love of writing in this genre. And OMG, did I mention I get paid for it too?!?

And then Rumplestiltskin came along. After having three stories and a book review published on the website, I felt pretty confident this semester that I knew what the magazine was looking for. I had agonized for the month of December about the basic concept, but finally settled on mixing the fairy tale with the Greek myths of King Midas, so by the time my creative writing class started, I was feeling pretty confident. The first draft was fraught with lots of problems, more than most of my first drafts, but I wasn’t too worried. I slashed it down to under the 2000 word limit and sent it off to the webzine, generally assuming it would be accepted.

And I got rejected–just barely, as Kate the editor told me. If it had been last summer, before my novel got a million rejections from literary agents and before the peak of my senior-year freak out, I doubt it would have rattled me much. But the timing of this rejection couldn’t have been worse. It felt like I’d wasted my time because honestly, the market for light-hearted fairy tale retellings is almost ZERO. The places that pay are even rarer. I felt like Rum.Kin was the runt of my litter, destined to sit on my computer forever because no one would ever want him.

I should warn you, this blog post doesn’t end with me getting Rum.Kin published so don’t get your hopes up for a nice victory–this plot point isn’t resolved yet. But once I finished being depressed, I continued working on the story, because I hadn’t been completely satisfied with it when I submitted it. I did a major rewrite–changing which character’s point of view the story was told from. And I still intend to fiddle with it because I remembered I wasn’t doing this for the magazine, I write because I really want to tell a story.

Also, I didn’t realize it at first, but getting rejected solved a problem I’d been trying to figure out for about a year. It’s time that I started trying to get published in more than just one place. Fairy Tale Magazine is great, but I need to have more than just one webzine on my writer’s resume when I’m trying to publish my novel. Perhaps more importantly, I need the connections with other writers, readers, and editors that branching out would provide. But most contests and magazines don’t want previously published stories–they only accept new material. Before Rum.Kin, I didn’t have very many stories that were new.

So long term, my little runt might end up opening important doors for me…and yes, I DID just watch the old cartoon version of Charlotte’s Web and in a fit of nostalgia, was inspired to write this. Oh, look, I’m getting all fancy and making this a multimedia blog post!

Also, my writer-friend Jude pointed me to this awesome website: http://www.duotrope.com, which let’s you search for places to get published. You can search by length, payscale, and every genre known to man (It let me specifically search for markets for fairy tale fantasy!). I found a handful of places I hadn’t heard of before that accept fairy tale short stories. I don’t know how realistic this is, but I’ve been kicking around the idea of putting all of my retellings together and try to publish them as a short story collection. I think I’d have to have more publishing cred before an editor would be interested, but it’s worth looking into since I think I can find a common thread to tie them all together. Maybe Rum.Kin will find a home yet 🙂


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Jude
    May 21, 2011 @ 19:57:40

    I’m glad to hear it was helpful for you. Each time a story comes back with a no, find a new market to submit it to as soon as you’re able. Start with the ones that pay the best and work your way down the list.

    Once you’ve written in the same genre for a while you’ll wear a path through the forest. . .


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