"It all means little, all the painting, sculpture, drawing, writing... it all has its place and nothing more. An attempt is everything. How marvelous!" -- Alberto Giacometti
Cover of The Pocket Muse
Make the attempt.
In On Writing, Stephen King says that, as a kid submitting stories to sci-fi and fantasy magazines, he would collect his rejection letters on an old railroad spike. Rejections with feedback were especially valuable, because it meant that the editor had actually read the thing, that the story had potential.
There's a product out there -- I first saw it in a SkyMall catalog, but I know they sell it in legitimate stores, too. It's a combination picture frame/storage box, and it's mostly for young kids' art -- they draw a picture, you put it in the frame, and the old art stays together.
I like the idea of getting one of these to display rejection letters. In my workspace, I could frame and archive each bit of feedback as I get it.
There are problems with this, of course. For one thing, I've submitted all of one piece. And the editors are people I know, so I'm nervous about the selection process: will they be too nice and let me in if I don't deserve it? Will they be too harsh in order to prevent just this kind of favoritism? And I'm insecure by nature, so even if these folks are 100% even-handed (which I have no doubt they will make every effort to be), I'll always wonder, whether I make it or not: was I good enough?
Which is the key, isn't it? Was I good enough? Not: was my story good enough? To say nothing of: was my story good enough quality-wise, but a little too long/quirky/domestic/etc. for what they had in mind?
Stephen King also had the benefit of established sci-fi/fanstasy magazines. I can't even think of any; any I might have heard of have long since shut down. Who even publishes short fiction, these days, anyway?
Not to mention that the few bits of short fiction I've written have been distilled from long-form drafts, and I miss all the details, backstory, and worldbuilding a novel allows.
But even if there was an establishment, it would be The Establishment. The grand old man who gropes a female colleague. The boys club that thinks female fans can't possibly be real fans. The guys who came up with the Open-Source Boobs Project. Ugh.
And I'm not one for cons, anyway. I don't thrive in crowds of strangers.
I mean, Octavia Butler was a classy lady whom I've had the privilege to meet (and the horror of hitting with my backpack). I love everything Mary Doria Russell has written, and suggest you drop what you're doing and read The Sparrow right now. And I kind of have a girl-crush on Ursula Vernon. So it's not entirely creepy white men.
Ah, but those ladies are geniuses. I just poke concepts with sticks until someone yells at me to write a plot, already.
We'll know soon enough what happens when I attempt a plot, attempt a submission. We'll see.
Tell me about an attempt you made.