The Mayor's Skin came back on Friday, with an unsigned, half-sheet rejection letter.
This was what I call an "expected rejection" — I submitted it where I did not because I thought it would suit them particularly, but because they pay well and respond quickly, and my first choice is currently closed to submissions. Even so, it stung, in part because the editor said the story "couldn't hold [his] interest." It's a form letter, one that's been sent to thousands of writers this year alone, and it intends nothing personal; but that phrase clutches at the roots of a writer's self-worth. If I can't hold your interest, I have no back-up strategy. I'm a crank, a poser, a dabbler, a machine for killing time.
To defuse this line of thought, I list off the writers who inspire me — Gene Wolfe, M. John Harrison, China Miéville — and remind myself that there are millions of people in the world whose interest they can't hold, who set their books and stories down after two pages and move on without looking back. Not everybody has to catch what I'm pitching. To quote Joel Hodgson (another personal hero), "We never ask, 'Who’s gonna get this?' We always say, 'The right people will get this'."
Now I just gotta find the right people.