This is a couple of days old now, but over on storyreactor there is a great interview with three of the leading editors of short spec fic.
The trio of interviews is not long, and are worth reading in their entirety. But the most interesting part, to me, was each of the editor’s responses to the following question. They each approach it from a different angle, but everything they say rings true.
What one bit of advice would you give a new and emerging author—about craft, the process, submissions, the industry, etc?
Ken Wood, Shock Totem
Respect your work enough to disagree with editors and constructive criticism, but not so much that you don’t listen or try new things. Too much ego is an albatross, but so is too little. Find the right balance, accept criticism and take it to heart, but be confident enough to know when it’s wrong. Especially when working with critique groups, which are often comprised of other authors who can’t separate how they write with how you write.
And have fun. Always have fun.
E. Catherine Tobler, Shimmer
Keep going. A rejection doesn’t mean anything more than “no, this doesn’t fit what we need right now.” It doesn’t mean you’re hopeless or that you can’t write. You absolutely have to find the right fit for the project you’re submitting. This is why there are dozens upon dozens of editors out there. Keep going.
Jack Fisher, The Dark
If you are going to write, you should be well-read first. You must devour reading of every kind: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, etc. (it will help establish style and voice), and, of course, an interesting idea for a story. Then, get used to rejection—it will harden you. Keep writing, take advice, fine-tune, resubmit.