I am just about finished with Look at the Birdie, a collection of short stories written by Kurt Vonnegut. It is the second collection of short stories published posthumously by the great author (or rather, by his estate). And, in all honesty, the stories published between its covers are the ones that were written for magazines early in his career but were rejected for one reason or another.
I’m a fan of the book all the same. I am biased though. The Vonnegut estate could probably release one of his old notebooks wherein he tracked his bowel movements and I’d be happy to read it. But all of that aside, Look at the Birdie got me thinking about the short stories that I have written. Specifically, the short stories that have been rejected thus far.
In addition to the handful of unfinished novels languishing on my hard drive, I have a handful of short stories that have yet to be published. I think they are all right, but I recognize that I haven’t exactly hit the pinnacle of my writing abilities or career. At that time, they may well be published on the basis that they are associated with my name (though more likely not). But I am encouraged by the fact that Kurt Vonnegut, award-winning, best-selling, genius that he was had at least two books worth of previously unpublished (likely rejected) stories.
Even successful writers don’t see success with every submission. That isn’t a reason to quit writing. Rather it means that they are the writers who kept writing in spite of their rejections and learned enough about the craft by doing so that their later works were successful.
I’m going to keep writing. Not everything that I write will get published in my lifetime. But if I stick with it, there’s still a chance that those stories will get published after I die, and then my daughters and the publisher will benefit from them. And that sounds just fine to me.