I’m late bringing this news to The Subway Test–a sign of the recent moribunditude of my blog. But last year I entered the Aura Estrada Short Story Contest at Boston Review and…I didn’t win. But my story, called “Nomenclator of the Revolution,” was a finalist for the award, and that means the story will be appearing in Boston Review soon!
One of the reasons I feel so proud to have “Nomenclator” coming out in Boston Review–besides the obvious, that Boston Review is an excellent publication which has hosted writing from titans like Rita Dove, John Updike, Susan Sontag, and Saul Bellow–is that “Nomenclator” had been rejected by 26 other magazines before it was accepted at Boston Review.
Which is another way of saying don’t invest too much meaning in any particular rejection of your work. When a story of mine is rejected a few times–say, half a dozen rejections or so–I do need to look hard at what I’m sending out. Maybe the piece isn’t ready. Maybe it’s not as good as I would like to believe it is. But once in a while, I scrutinize the much-rejected story and it still looks good to me. It’s hard to assess my own work honestly. But if I really believe the story is good, then I’ll keep sending it out until I find someone who agrees with me.
One of my formative memories as a writer was seeing the great poet William Stafford read at the end of his career. He would have been 75 or 76 years old at the time–a wizened, kindly fellow who I appreciated only later as one of the most important poetic voices in the 20th century. At one point in the reading, he introduced one of his poems by reciting the names of all the magazines and journals that had rejected it. The list was long–I don’t remember how many publications were on it–but, journal names being what they are, the list sounded like a poem of its own. I didn’t have the courage to tell Stafford how important his reading had been to me, and he died mot much later. But thank you, William Stafford, for reading that list when I was 19 years old.