Here’s a tale about the weirdness of publishing.
I had five stories accepted for publication this year so far. Three of them I had spent effort on and liked, but I knew they weren’t anything brilliant. I placed them in journals I was happy with after the usual amount of effort.
One of these stories I had actually written years ago, back in senior year of college when I was first attempting to write seriously. The original draft of the story was long and laborious. I abandoned it after I used it as my writing sample for a workshop application and was promptly rejected. This spring, I was going through old stuff and found this story and thought it wasn’t as bad as I remembered. I spent two days cutting its word count in half and replacing some of the truly awful dialogue (dialogue has always been a weakness of mine, and still is). I figured I’d submit it just because, but wasn’t expecting anything. It was accepted within weeks, to the first place I sent it, a journal that had been rejecting me for quite some time.
The last story is my favorite story I have yet written. It went through about nine intensive revisions last spring. I initially submitted it to all the top journals, getting many positive, personal responses but no acceptances. I have been submitting it for over a year now, to 129 journals in total. It was finally accepted by Jelly Bucket today.
It’s been hard to have my favorite story rejected so much, while lesser stories were accepted more quickly. I think part of the reason is the story is about depression, and people who haven’t experienced it just don’t get it. The most common critique was that people wondered why the main character is so unhappy. I didn’t want there to be a reason because that’s what depression is; there isn’t one specific reason to be unhappy. Giving my protagonist a reason would validate all of those cheerful types who think you can choose your mood.
Anyways, I think the story’s darkness perhaps prevented it from getting accepted at many journals where it was in the final rounds. So thank you, thank you, thank you Jelly Bucket for giving a home to my favorite story! I am so deeply grateful that “An Inquiry Into the Nature of Happiness” will finally appear in print.