Where to Next?

Yesterday morning I received the email I had been dreading. My flash fiction “In Their Own Good Time” didn’t make the cut for the 4th AXP Flash Fiction competition. After Tony Noland announced his story had been accepted on Friday I languished all weekend waiting to hear something. By Sunday I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact I would be getting a rejection and thus, I’d already turned my mind to where it could be sent next.

But assuming rejection and actually knowing you have been are two different things. When I read the email from bed, I went ‘Oh well, just as I thought’ and the morning continued on.

It was only after lunch it began to sink in.

What surprised me most was I really couldn’t care less about the writing. I did my best to ensure it was tightly written. There were no syntax errors and it was to the word count. I have had rejections before and moved on, knowing it was just not the right fit for where I had sent it. Rejection was a call to arms to find the right home.

But this time it is more than just a kick up the bum to move on.

I’m upset my idea and the message in it were rejected. I feel like a big slap for having dared to talk about birth – for having offered a different take on what we really shouldn’t be talking about, much less writing about.

Of course, maybe I could have executed the story differently to better effect. Maybe I came too absorbed (or besotted) with the message and made the story fit it, rather than the story carry the message. Maybe I should have gone for a micro environment – made the story personal – rather than the over-arching distance of the main characters – The Sacred Masculine and Feminine looking down on what humanity had done to itself?

Who knows? I’ll probably never know.

The dilemma now is what to do with the story. I don’t want it to languish on my hard drive. It contains an important message, as Annie keeps reminding me, and one which must be told, to as many people as possible.

We need to stop denying our mammalian natures and acknowledge we have specific needs when it comes to birthing (needs which run counter to a medical paradigm of control). As women we need to stop relying on medical un-truth and see it is just another form of belief and control, and start relying on our intuition – trusting in ourselves and our babies. Humanity needs to stop toying with nature and go with the program which has been evolved over eons – after all if we needed people in white coats to save us from/at birth – we would have died out as a species long, long ago. We need to stop forcing babies out before their time, because we know better. We actually don’t know better. We need to stop believing we are better than nature and technology will save us. We have no idea of the damage we are causing.

In my story I provide a stark ending, though one which carries a message of hope for those who are willing to trust.

That said and done…  I’m lost. My fable needs a home.

Do I post it up as #fridayflash? This would ensure the most number of people read it… from a mainstream, non-birthing background. There is no point in preaching to the converted!

Or do I search out a magazine/literary journal for it? I fear there won’t be anyone out there who will want to publish it. After all – some of the ideas I posit will not be popular and are likely to scare lots of people. Create a nasty backlash?

A problem shared is a problem halved… so I turn to you, my readers (especially those who have been part of the process of bringing this story to life). Where to next?

UPDATE: since I hammered this out this morning (which yes was cathartic!) I’ve had an email from Chris ‘he’s-more- intuned-with-what’s-going-down’ Chartrand helping to put things in perspective. Hopefully he’ll pop in and share them in the comments section… but I’d still like to hear from you!


9 thoughts on “Where to Next?

  1. I think you should target Aurealis – I sent you an invite to their fan page on FB. They’re a pretty broad church and take all kinds of speculative fiction.

    You can’t help but be passionate about what you believe in. I still get upset when I see people urging new mums to formula feed their babies. I’m not breast fanatic, but I can’t believe people deliberately choose to force-feed their baby substitute breast milk. How can it possibly be better. I know that there is a tiny percentage of women who physiologically cannot breast feed, but if we had better support, I think many more women could be helped, and therefore their babies. God knows what the formula is doing to the genetic make-up of modern-day babies. The fact that we don’t even question feeding our babies something made in a factory is what I guess upsets me most. I am as passionate about this as you are about natural birth, I suppose, although I haven’t found a way to insert it into a story yet!

    I hope you do find a home for your story. 🙂


    • Am a proud lactivist as well Lily… and yes, have never managed to wangle it into a story. Though I spent most of last year bashing out articles on breastfeeding for an american mothers site!

      This is the first out and out story incorporating birth and being really in your face about it. And I’m with you – you can’t improve on nature. Why the hell feed your kid something which has trace elements of explosives in it?

      And will definitely check out Aurealis. You are a gem… hugs from the outside.


  2. Jodi, I totally understand your concerns about your message not getting through to editors and possibly never being read. Marxist ideas aren’t particularly popular either, but I feel like I need to press on to find the right market that’s willing to try out my ideas.

    I feel like it would be a waste just posting it as a #FridayFlash, not that this blog or blogging a story is always bad, but it’s worth trying out some other markets. Aurealis is definitely worth a go. Also, Felicity Dowker has similar themes and writes Spec Fic so she might be able to point you to some markets.

    I feel like literature is one of the places where marginal ideas can get a hearing even if the editors don’t necessarily agree with you. You just have to find that open minded editor. Certainly, I’m unlikely to find a Marxist editor (except for in Overland) but a lot of people have expressed at least curiosity in my niche genre.


  3. Thank you Ben!!

    Of course – Felicity would know the best play to try and place it, or least give me some suggestions as a newbie trying to place a difficult story with these underlying messages. Makes me realise it is time to really step up and say I write Spec Fic and get myself networked in properly.

    It was such a delight stumbling across Felicity’s blog a while back… I think I met her after you retweeted one of her birth related posts (or you might have even given me a shove in her direction.) I’ll drop her a line and see if she can help me.

    The problem was I just didn’t know where to start… now at least I feel as though I can step off the START square. Even if I only rolled “one”.

    Doesn’t make life easy if you DON’T write to nice neat, pink boxed, palatable ideas.


  4. You might want to wait a while and try to find other audiences for the story. There is still time to put it out as a #FridayFlash a few weeks from now – #FridayFlash won’t end over night. (When my stories get rejected, I usually post them up at the blog within a few days, but most of them are written for one special occasion and I figure I will write others for other competitions and stuff.)


  5. Pingback: Tweets that mention Where to Next? « Writing in Black and White -- Topsy.com

  6. I’m glad you have decided to breath deep and let your story find its market. Lilly, Ben and Diandra pretty much summed up my thoughts (except on breastfeeding. I’m not qualified to discuss that one. :-0 )


  7. HAHA. At last, I get to come comment on the fabulous Jodi Cleghorn’s blog-thingie. I raid blogs of people that follow me, cause I’m nice like that. Read your post. I’ve seen some of your stuff. You have got nothing to worry about kid. Most of this stuff is all cliquey anyway. You’re unconventional. That’s why you run your own ship and mastermind some of the most awesome stuff I’ve heard of.

    So. In conclusion. I dig ya.




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