I recently had the experience where I received an acceptance for two pieces of flash creative non-fiction. To say I was delighted would be an understatement, particularly because the journal was one in which I’ve discovered many pieces that have moved me in one way or the other since I began reading it. And I thought, hooray! My writing will be archived among these paragons of the short form! I was feeling pretty pleased with myself.
Then the other day, the journal contacted me about the galleys, asking me to look over the work and see if anything were amiss. But they only sent me the link to one of the pieces they accepted. So I inquired—what happened to the second piece? Shouldn’t they have sent me the galley to it?
The CNF editor apologized, but said that clearly Submittable had made an error, and really, they only meant to take Piece A, not Piece A and Piece B. They hoped I was ok with this, and they hoped Piece A was still available.
I’m not sure if the editor thought I might hold Piece A hostage—like, “You said you were going to publish both, and if you can’t publish both, you can’t publish either, nyah, nyah, nyah.” I’m not so stupid that I would do that—an acceptance is an acceptance. But it made me wonder if she had had that experience before, where she or one of the other editors had a Submittable “glitch” which accepted multiple pieces from an author only to have to break it to the author that there must have been some error with Submittable that day, and they only desired to publish one piece. I could understand an author choosing to say, “To hell with that journal! If they can’t even be clear about the works they want to publish, maybe I don’t want my work published there.”
I understand about computer errors, and software glitches, and even human mistakes—I get that. Computers are machinery and bound to fail at some point, and editors have a lot on their plates and don’t always catch things. But it’s hard, when you’re hungry to start racking up pubs in a different genre than you’re used to publishing in, to have an acceptance snatched away from you like that. Part of me wishes that they would just have agreed to publish both works, since that’s what they said—and since I withdrew Piece B from all the journals I had sent it to, like a good little simultaneous submitter should do. But then another part of me thinks I’d rather the work they didn’t want find a home in a journal that loves it for what it is—and not feel constrained to publish it under duress.
I’m trying really hard to see the multiple perspectives here. I am grateful, of course, that they wanted to take any of my work at all. That should be enough right? Mistakes happen, blah blah—at least they wanted one piece—they could have told me the entire acceptance was a mistake. But I’m stubborn and don’t want to be reasonable about this situation—particularly in light of some other recent (huge) writing rejections that have really demoralized me. A little part of me feels like this “accidental” acceptance scenario is just too much to take.
I know, I know, this is the publishing biz. I’m just having a little difficulty being rational while I wallow in my self-pity.