Sunday, 5 August 2012

It All Boils Down to Personal Taste

In my previous post I had listed all of the recognition my work has received so far this year, and how over the moon I am about that. I'm proud of the accomplishment, that's for sure, but there is an element of luck that has to be acknowledged as well.
By now I've been in enough competitions to know that there's often no rhyme or reason over which story wins and which story doesn't. What I mean is that a judge, or an editor, are human, often with a very human divergence in taste. What one reads with interest, another may discard without any interest whatsoever. For instance, Roll of Honour is a very genre-specific story, and may not always appeal to someone judging a generic literary contest. It was my good fortune to: a) find a contest with a specific category tailor made for it, and b) have it read by a judge who 'got it', and that's harder to do than you might think.
Since 2010, Heading Home had been submitted twelve times, and been continuously passed over until it landed on the desk of the editor for Voices. Maurice's enthusiasm for it left little doubt that he felt the same connection that I did when I wrote it. Man, when that happens, it's about as good as it gets. The Mathematics of Fate is a fine story (actually, I think it's great, but I'm trying to allow for my own personal prejudice) and deserves to be published every bit as much as Heading Home. But when I sent it in, I already knew that it was to someone whose tastes reflect my own. The same goes for Ted Dyck over at Transition, who has accepted both stories I've submitted - Freedom's Wings and Tharn!, although both had been previously rejected by other magazines, three and five times respectively. And then there's Fiona over in England. Over the years I've submitted four pieces to the Global Short Stories, three of which have been recognized, and here the rule of thumb takes a twist: Tin Whistle has been submitted to five competitions, all told, and recognized twice; The Icon = 2 for 6, and The Mathematics of Fate (a true anomaly, is 3 for 4). Not too shabby, but the point I'm trying to make is that for every editor who 'gets it' there can be a plethora who don't.
After all, they, too - just like all of us - are subject to their own personal preferences.

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