02 November 2011
Sending Stories Out into the World by Carol Costa
After writing some short stories, I realized I needed some guidance. I was working as an accountant and wanted to take a class on Corporate Taxation. So, I registered for that and then added a class in Creative Writing that met the same evening of the week.
My creative writing class at the University of Arizona focused on short stories. At the first class, we were told to take one of our stories, make copies, and distribute the copies to various libraries around town where the instructor had set up a file for us. Then, before class convened the next week, we were all supposed to access the story file and read the stories written by the other members of our class and write a critique for each one.
The first class had about thirty attendees, but less than ten people showed up for the second class. This told me that the missing members had not written any stories to share or were afraid to subject their stories to criticism.
I had submitted a story called the Ring of Friendship. It was about a woman who was feeling guilty about losing track of people who had once been important in her life. I have to admit I was a little nervous about having it critiqued, but I showed up for the second class ready to grin and bear it. As it turned out, my classmates loved my story. I was thrilled and encouraged to keep writing.
So week after week, I turned out short stories and shared them with the class. I didn’t get good reviews every week, but I learned a lot.
One of things we all learned in this class was how to submit our stories to magazines. Back then, there were a lot of major publications that used short stories. The thought of sending one of my stories to a magazine was daunting. It was one thing for the people in my class who were beginners, like me, to critique me. It was another thing to send my work to a big magazine and have a professional editor read it, but again, I decided to do it anyway. When I got my first rejection and saw that it was an impersonal form letter, I knew that I could keep trying. Rejection was not as painful as I feared.
Of course, over the years, I have gotten some rejections that did hurt and tomorrow I’ll tell you all about the worse one I ever got and what I learned from it.