Trigger warning: sexual assault
Today I decided to self-publish a short story I wrote a couple years ago called "Unsavory." If you're up for it, I would love for you to take the time to read it.
In the past, when stories of mine have been published, that's the only note I send along with it--thank you for reading. But I feel the need to share the journey this story and I have been on.
I submitted "Unsavory" 38 times and got 38 nos. I'm not bothered the rejections. However, the kinds of rejections this story garnered are unsettling to me. A few of the rejections came with feedback, which is fairly uncommon and something that I usually welcome. Some of it had to do with my writing. Admittedly, this is not my best work. I've grown a lot as a writer since I wrote this. But most of the feedback read like this:
"It's too much of a political statement."
"It seems unrealistic that the husband would have acted that way."
"The testimony is distracting."
It wasn't the rejections that bothered me--it was the fact that these publications didn't want to have this important discussion. They didn't want to get political. Unfortunately for them, writing and art are inherently political. They engage and react and respond to the world in which we live. Shit, The Iowa Writer's Workshop was started by the CIA. It does not get much more political than that. And yet, this is the feedback that sits in my inbox. Truly, I would've preferred they told me my writing sucked. There's plenty to pick from. More time could be spent with each of the characters. It feels rushed. The story could be interpreted as an op-ed rather than a work of fiction. All would be valid points. But no--the thing that really turned people off was the politics.
All that said, I am not putting this story out into the world because it is a masterpiece or profound--I am putting it out into the world because people did not and do not want to be confronted with the uncomfortable reality that they likely helped build and I'm a fan of confrontation.