And Then There Were None

rejection_Lyn Fairchild Hawks

So, originally, this post was supposed to be entitled, “And Then There was One,” but I’ve heard back from the final publisher who had a story in consideration (“Silence Will Fall“) and by the image, you can pretty much see what the result was for the story.  I wasn’t really going to cover this in any great detail–just mention it along with the other rejections and move on with a generalized post on rejections–but there was a development over the time that I sent this story in and it was rejected.

A Quiet Place

So, in between the time that I submitted Silence Will Fall (SWF) the trailer for a new horror movie debuted called A Quiet Place.  While I had no idea that it was in development, nor did I even know about it until the trailer was released, it (coincidentally) shares many of the aspects that SWF has in it: 1) the idea that one must be super-quiet in order to be avoid being hunted, 1) the idea that noise attracts the “hunters” 3) both even features the characters using sign language, for Pete’s sake (although I assume that’s a natural outgrowth as I–and I assume, the filmmakers–both reasonably extrapolated that human communication would still need to happen and the only reasonably detailed system that works reliably would be some sort of sign language).  Now, the trailers don’t show the enemy, but they appear humanoid from the snatches of images that you get to see, while mine are completely and utterly alien in construction.  Still, I have a feeling that this trailer pretty much sank the chances of my story and I’ll detail why in a moment.  For now, here’s the trailer:

Brandon Sanderson’s Law

So, this is probably more a truism than an actual law, but as Brandon Sanderson articulated in Book 1 of his Stormlight Archives series, The Way of Kings, people don’t value originality and distinctness, so much as they do timeliness.  If two people invent something at roughly the same time, people valorize and praise the first and denigrate the second, considering it an also-ran.  History is replete with examples from the scientific community where scientists, working (unknowingly) on similar projects, papers, and discoveries have published their work/findings mere days apart and in pretty much every case, the glory of the find went to the first, even if the second was a more detailed or better formulation.  It also occurs in sports, in art, in pretty much every human endeavor–we valorize the first, regardless as to if it is the best.  I’m even doing here, as Sanderson was the first articulation I’d heard of this idea, and even though I already knew it implicitly, since he was the first one to say it explicitly, I’m naming it after him (for my purposes, at least–hence, Sanderson’s Law).

Silence Will Fall vs. A Quiet Place

Unfortunately, I feel that SWF probably fell victim to Sanderson’s Law and will continue to fall under its sway.  I didn’t “copy” A Quiet Place as SWF was from a dream–one where I can still see the final image in my mind’s eye even as I type these words.  While I’m pretty caught up (I feel) on Pop. Culture, I had no idea this movie even existed until the first trailer hit–and then my heart sank a little.  Of course, I can’t prove that the rejection was influenced by this, but I’m sure that if the editor(s) saw the trailer (and being that they are a Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror publication, it is likely that they did), it certainly didn’t help.

Will I continue to submit the story and hope for a publication, knowing that Sanderson’s Law is in effect?  Yes–but what else can I do?  It represents countless hours of story planning, drafting, revising, and editing, in addition to the time spent in the Writing Center and from my “Alpha Readers” getting feedback on it.  I can’t just abandon it to sit in a drawer somewhere for fifteen years or twenty years until people “forget” about A Quiet Place.  In this era of divergent and multitudinous options for content and content delivery, there has to come a time when more stories, even if they are similar, are accepted and published without regard to other media available.  One wonders how one ever become popular and mainstream if the “gatekeepers” never actually open up the gates?

Sidney



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