At the start of 2020, one of my goals was to collect at least six rejection letters. These could be for the same story at multiple magazines, or for different stories.
This may seem like a very negative goal, but I see it as managing my expectations. The likelyhood of getting a piece published is very slim. And I feal that a lot of writers can get discouraged by this.
I was inspired by Stephen King's approach: he put a nail into the wall and used it to pin each rejection letter he received. He kept going and eventually the nail fell out of the wall under the weight of the rejections. This really does go to show how much rejection a writer can go through.
My other inspiration was from seeing the film Rebel in the Rye, the story of J.D. Salinger. I think this is a great inspiration for any writer. The thing that I took away from it was:
If you knew that you could try this hard, for this long and you still might never be published, would you do it anyway?
To me, this really shows how much you have to enjoy what you are doing, no matter what the outcome is.
I enjoy writing these stories. I enjoy turning an idea into a narrative and then refining it into something so neat and self-contained that it is almost perfect (in my eyes at least). Then, after that, it really doesn't matter if it gets published. That isn't where the joy and creativity are.
So, I set the goal of getting six rejection letters in 2020. This isn't a high number, but at the time I wasn't sure how much time I would be able to put into it. This was before I took my life back to basics.
A New Hope
Well, as of the 3rd December 2020, I will have achieved my goal. At least, I have posted three submissions that should (assuming that they are rejected -- hey, I still have hope) push me over my goal.
I'm used to sending pieces in through a portal like Submittable or a publishers own version on their website. However, one of the submissions that I have just made was a direct email to the editor. This felt different and a little more nerve wracking.
I think I put as much time into writing the email as I did into the short story. trying to get the length and tone just right. Trying to intreague but also inform. Trying to sound professional and confident, but also respectful and humble at the same time.
Maybe I just read too much into these things, but it felt like it was an important thing to get right.
So, there you have it. My little diary entry for submitting my fiction again. I'd been writing this whole year, but I'd stalled on actually submitting. Maybe out of fear, maybe out of lazyness, I don't know. But, it really did help to have that goal of being rejected six times this year.
Maybe next year, I should see if I can double it?
Thanks for reading,