18 Rejections

That’s how many I’ve collected this year – from short stories, submitted to various magazines. Eight submissions are still out there, waiting, biding their time. So who knows, 18 could turn into 19, 20, 21, before this year is over.

I say this not to be pessimistic, but to be realistic. This is part of the writing life. Most writers out there probably know, in theory, that there will be rejections. I don’t think they necessarily understand the volume. There will be a LOT of rejection. And it usually comes after you’ve waited weeks, months.

18 is actually a VERY small number. Some writers aim to gather 100 rejections over the course of one year (heard from Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo of Women Who Submit). The idea being that if you’re submitting that much…well, some of them are bound to hit the mark.

Not going to lie – some days, it’s discouraging. Usually on days that’ve already gone off the tracks, for one reason or another. On those days, I let myself be sad for a little while, maybe get a treat… then I send out two or three more submissions. Immediately.

Some days? Some days the rejections are actually encouraging. I think only a writer could truly understand how that could be the case, but when you get one that’s personalized, when you get one that says “not for us, but we’d like to see more of your work”… that’s cause for a little celebration.

Writing is about process, and this whole circle of sending submissions, receiving rejections, repeat – it’s part of it. If you’re submitting, you’re putting in the work. You’ve just gotta have faith it’ll eventually pay off.

The Proper Response to Rejection

Yesterday I found out that a story I worked really really hard on and was really quite pleased with was rejected from a magazine I was really really excited about.

I could say “not accepted”, but rejected is really the proper term. Rejection requires going outside of your comfort zone and taking a risk. I don’t really think it’s rejection without those two components. Which is probably why rejection sucks as much as it does — we feel like we’ve put ourselves out there. Shouldn’t there be some reward?

Now, of course, the immediate response to rejection is the sads. My immediate response involved eating a chocolate bar at 9am and then wallowing on the couch all evening watching Mad Men. And, you know, I was a pathetic creature, but it was ok — it’s ok to feel disappointed when efforts don’t pay off. It’s good to get it out of your system.

But rejection is — has always been — part and parcel to being a writer. So as I was wallowing and trying to force the cats to cuddle with me (“WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME??”), I told myself, “Today you get to be sad. Tomorrow you’re over it.”

Chuck Wendig has a saying…

This morning I got up early and went for a run. Soon I will be eating a fried egg and home fries. Today I go to work — and this evening I sit my ass back down and continue working on my book.

The only real response to rejection is to quit or to work harder. Since I’m too stubborn or stupid to quit, that only leaves one option…