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  • Writer's pictureallieyohn

The Little Short Story that could(n't quite fit in anywhere)

Another day, another personal rejection on my favorite short story (that I've ever written, anyway. All Summer in a Day and The Lottery are still the GOATs). "You Look Prettier When You Scream" is an oddly personal horror story for me. I wrote it with the memory of the absolute rage I felt when a male neighbor (who I barely knew) looked me straight in the eyes in our townhouse parking complex and told me to "smile." He didn't know it, but he chose the wrong day to police my facial expressions. At the time, my mother was slowly dying from 2nd & 3rd degree burns over 80% of her body. I let him have it with both barrels. He ran, not walked, away from me and never spoke to me again.

As women, we grow up being told to look a certain way, to dress a certain way, to act a certain way.

When we fail, there is always someone there to critique us.

It's exhausting.

I've submitted this story to a huge number of markets and it's just not quite the right fit for anyone. The overwhelming majority of the responses say they want to see something else from me. Several of them also use the word "soon" in their rejection, which is huge.

I'm never going to make a living as an author. That hustle and confidence people need to make it solely on their writing... I don't have that. I am nothing but a bundle of insecurity on my best days. Another thing you need to make it in this business is a larger backlog of work to send out on submission, and I am far from prolific. Much as I try, I don't always have the time or the energy to write.

But the thought of this story never reaching any readers leaves me bereft.

With that thought in mind, I've decided to publish the story on Medium for everyone to read. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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