Empty Pages – My Weird Tales Submission (Episode 14)

Empty Pages – My Weird Tales Submission (Episode 14)

Empty Pages
Image ©2021 by Ian MacTire, all rights reserved.

In this episode, I talk about my submission to Weird Tales magazine.


Welcome to Empty Pages, which chronicles my journey from first draft to published manuscript and beyond. I’m your host, Ian MacTire.

Hello and welcome back to my return listeners! If you’re a new listener, welcome! I hope you find this podcast entertaining and useful.

In my last episode, I mentioned that I had submitted to Weird Tales. Unlike the first story I submitted, were they wanted the actual story, Weird Tales submission requirements were a story pitch and a writing sample. I submitted those and finally got a response back. My story was rejected. And this time it hurt a bit.

Overall, it’s only my second rejection, so it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things (only 28 more to match King’s number of rejections for “Carrie”). The only reason this hurt so much was because I placed a lot on it. This submission was to Weird Tales magazine, one of the preeminent horror and sci-fi magazines, and they were the ones to publish HP Lovecraft’s stories. To have my first story be published by them would have been awesome!  But, this boils down to me putting too much expectation on it, and I’ll own it.

Why is this important to me? I say “is” and not “was”, because I still want to get at least one story published by them.

Aside from actually having a story published, this magazine and the stories therein were an important part of my young life. Pulp stories from the likes of Lovecraft,  RE Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and other pulp writers allowed my young mind to visit places beyond imagination. They inspired me to want to become a writer. These stories allowed me an escape from the hell that was my real life as a child.

As an adult, to be published by Weird Tales was to be included in the company of some of the greats. It’s like being an artist and having your painting hung up next to the Mona Lisa, or at least in the same building. The rejection email I received had some kind words. I was told that they enjoyed the writing sample, but the story wasn’t what they were looking for. I was told that they would be opening up another call for submissions and gave me the theme, and they hoped I would submit something.

That’s not for nothing. It wasn’t a generic “Thanks, but no thanks” rejection. It was confirmation that I had at least caught their eye. I know I have the talent, it’s nice to have it confirmed yet again.

When I got the email, I was in the  middle of editing my current work in progress. Reading the rejection took the wind out of my proverbial sails. I saved my work, closed my laptop and went and played Red Dead Redemption 2. I was a bit crushed.  I tell you this because I think it’s important that you allow yourself to have those feelings. It’s ok to feel crushed, let down, whatever. The important part is that you don’t dwell on it for too long and don’t let it derail you. In my case, I allowed myself a day  to mope before shaking it off and re-committing to my writing goals. You may need a little longer, and that’s ok, provided that again, you don’t stay there.

After some time away from writing to digest everything, I came to a realization. It’s quite possible I would have been rejected regardless, but I might have inadvertently shot myself in the foot. The theme was “cosmic horror”. They wanted a short story pitch and a writing sample that could not be from the story we pitched. The writing sample was to show that we could write in the genre.

The story I was going to use was “The Basement”, which you can find on my website at ianmactire.com . It was pretty much done already, but because I was submitting to Weird Tales, I wanted to give it another pass and make sure it was as polished as possible.

During this time, I kept getting annoying alerts from Microsoft about upgrading to Windows 11. Long story short, I decided to do the upgrade and it hosed my laptop. I had to roll back to Windows 10 and when that failed to fix it, I had to backup everything and do a completely new install. Because of that, and because I only have the one laptop, I was forced to submit a different short story.

Looking back, I thought they wanted to see that I could write HORROR in general. However, when I think about it, I think they wanted to see that I could write COSMIC horror. Oh well, live and learn. I’ll nail it next time. It’s only a matter of time before I post about my first story getting published. And, I plan on getting another laptop so that I have a back up in case I run into technical issues again.

Before I sign off, a little update about my website. I have a few writing projects that I’m trying to figure out the logistics for. Once I have that figured out, I will be making an announcement.  I’m not sure when that will be exactly, but make sure you’re listening to this podcast . This is where I will announce it first, and then I will announce it later on Twitter.

In the meantime, don’t let rejections get you down. Stay classy and keep writing those stories!

This has been another episode of Empty Pages. If you enjoyed what you heard and want more of it, you can follow me at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts from. Please leave me a review, as that really helps me out, and if you do, you might find your review featured in a future episode. You can find me at ianmactire.com, as well as on Twitter and Instagram as @ianmactire. Until next time, I’m Ian and this is Empty Pages. Stay classy and write those stories!

© Copyright 2022 Ian MacTire, All Rights Reserved, except where otherwise noted.

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