The Little Story that Could


When I was little my mom read us stories. I think my favorites were Dr. Seuss but I remember stacks of those Little Golden Books one of which was about a little steam engine that hauled a load of goodies for children over the mountain. Other trains couldn’t make it but that little engine could because he believed in himself.

So a few years ago I wrote a flash piece for the Shock Totem Flash Contest. This contest is held bi-monthly over at the Shock Totem forums. Once you sign up, you are let into a secret room where a prompt is revealed on the 1st and you have a week to write a flash piece based on the prompt. The stories are turned in, stripped of identification, then released back into the secret room where the people who submitted stories can read, comment and vote on the best story.

This story wasn’t very good. It was more of a combination of ideas all swirled together. I got some great feedback but I don’t think I got any votes. Once the contest was over, I let it set for a bit before I began revising it.

I started submitting it in 2011. After a few rejections (and awesome comments from editors) I revised it again–taking out pieces and adding others. Then I sent it out again. And revised again. And submitted again.

It’s racked up quite a few rejections and I was just about to trunk it before I decided to try a couple more markets before I set it aside. I’m glad I did.

That story found a home this week.

It’s easy sometimes to think a story is broken or unusable because it receives a few rejections. At times it’s disheartening to receive all of those “We’re sorry but it’s not quite what we’re looking for.”  I know, I’ve gotten quite a few for my collection this year.

I know I still have a long way to go. Someday I hope to break into a pro market. Someday I hope to have some novels sold. I am sure that pile of rejections will grow but I’m going to get there. Simply because I know I can.

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