I went to duotrope.com – an excellent writer’s resource, for discovering markets and keeping track of your submissions – and counted my rejections since March of this year. A few other writers do this, namely Deanna Knippling and Court Merrigan, and I like the idea. Others may say don’t share your rejections, but rejections are a big part of being a writer.
I don’t like the glamour flung over writing like a sparkly shawl. It is hard work, and getting published is another thing entirely. You daydream, you brainstorm, you write, you revise, you polish, you ponder, you polish some more. Then you submit, wait, and often get a form letter saying “Sorry, you must be “this good” to ride the published-coaster. And you don’t measure up.”
That’s not how I look at it.
Think of it like this. Every day an editor has to buy 13 donuts for his bosses. We bake those donuts. There are hundreds of us offering them a bite. Now, if you’ve practiced your craft and let the giddy feeling of “ooh ooh I just wrote something! it’s like mah baby!!” pass, and judge your work critically, you have probably made a passable donut. But everyone likes different donuts. And they all start to taste pretty good, so you can’t say “whoa, a jelly donut… gimme 13 of those.” No, they have to pick the best 13 damn donuts they can find. Sometimes they’ve had too many chocolate glazed, and yours is a really good chocolate donut, but… they don’t know if they can eat another one just now. Or they say, “hey, this is a bagel. We like donuts. But try those guys over in engineering, they love bagels. They might even like this one you made, with anchovies and squirrels in it.”
Not to get all gooey feely, but think of them as passes not rejections. They usually say “I’m gonna pass on this one” if they write a personal note, not “I doth hereby reject you, your claims of talent, and everything you stand for. I also micturate upon your Froot Loops, when you are not looking, and then post video of you eating it on youtube.” (Except one editor, who wrote exactly that. Her name is Erin, and I gave her a poop donut as revenge.)
So don’t let them get you down. I just got my 16th rejection in 4 months. That’s actually not a bad ratio. I’ve had 13 acceptances, and I have 11 stories awaiting response. Yes, I wrote 32 stories this year. The longest a story has sat unsubmitted is a month or so, because I am waiting for Needle magazine to open up. Normally I find another market within 24 hours. I learned that from Lawrence Block, in his excellent writer’s manual, Telling Lies for Fun & Profit. Always be submitting.
You’ll get rejected more often, which will make it seem like less of a eagle claw punch to the crotch. And you might even get accepted, and dance the dance of joy.
© 2011 Thomas Pluck