Rejected from Midian
Well — rats. I just received my rejection letter this morning — my submission, “Waiting For The Miracle,” was not selected for the Midian Unmade: Tales of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed anthology.
I had really high hopes for this story, especially after reading last month’s update from the editors letting authors know that they had finished the first round of their selection process. That told me that since I hadn’t already received a rejection letter by then, I’d made it into the second round — out of the 500 entries they’d received, mine was among the 50 or so they were still considering. I thought those were pretty good odds, and have had my fingers crossed ever since.
Sadly, the editors ultimately decided that my submission didn’t fit in with the other stories they’d selected. I was a little afraid this might happen. I had gone in a very different direction with my story than I assumed most of the other submissions would go, in an attempt stand out from the rest of the pack. But it did occur to me at the time that this approach might knock me out of the running if they were looking to have a more cohesive anthology, either in terms of plot details or general style.
I’m definitely proud of the story I wrote — and even more proud of the simple fact that I managed to write it at all. I had a very serious fight with depression this year, one that lasted months — which is why you haven’t seen any posts from me here for quite a while — and the deadline for this anthology was coming up right in the middle of the worst of it.
I’ve always loved Nightbreed, both the original novel and especially the flawed but beautiful film that Barker made of it. (Longtime readers might remember my pilgrimage down to Portland to see the long-awaited restored cut of the film.) I was always a strange and slightly morbid child, fascinated by monsters, and the idea of a home for these monsters and outsiders, the hidden city of Midian, resonated with me quite deeply when I first saw the film as a young man.
Since it was so dear to me, I knew I would never quite forgive myself if I let this deadline pass by. At a time when I was barely managing to make it out of bed in the mornings, I was able to make myself sit down and write something that felt dark and beautiful enough to me to be worthy of the source material, and edit and polish the manuscript well enough to be confident in sending it off. That was an accomplishment I was able to hold onto, one that helped me get through the rest of that depression.
“Waiting For The Miracle” will never see the light of day — which, for a story inspired by a secret underground city, seems somehow appropriate. But I’m glad I wrote it. (I will be sending it out as a free Christmas bonus story to my newsletter subscribers, though, so if you’re curious about it and you’re not already a subscriber, this would be a good time to sign up.)