Submitting After Rejection: Keeping Your Work Out There

Rejection is a part of this crazy writing business. I don’t need to tell anyone who has submitted anything to anyone that. What supposedly separates successful writers from those who never make it–besides being able to, uh, write–is persistence. That whole, getting up and dusting yourself off thing. This, my dear readers, is not something I’m very good at.

I am so alone in my rejection-induced melancholy. Or, something equally pathetic and emo.

Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not a delicate butterfly. I can take criticism, relish it, even. For a few months I will be such a go-getter about my writing career. Rejections will pour in, but it doesn’t phase me. “A rejection, you say? Onto the next market!” I celebrate rejections almost as much as the rare acceptance.

After three rejections on a single story, I’ll take a look at it again just to make sure there’s nothing glaringly wrong. If an editor has provided feedback, I’ll take that into consideration. Maybe I’ll even do a rewrite. Then that story is sent back out to the great beyond of slush piles.

I can manage this gusto for are of submission for a few months before something awful happens: I get tired.

I know it’s such a sad pitiful excuse. But you see, rejections tend to have a cumulative effect. One, two or three rejections don’t bother me. But when every single thing I’m sending out is coming back with the proverbial big red “NO” on it, it’s easy to step back and wonder why the heck you’re doing this. But more than the feeling of being rejected, it’s the act of submitted over and over that gets tiring.

And then life gets in the way. Or rather, I let it get in the way. I’ll feel guilty at first, but I’ll get so used to writing and not submitting that the act of non-writing becomes the rule rather than the exception. Suddenly, I don’t feel so guilty anymore.

I wish I had the solution to putting an end to this dreaded cycle, but I’ve yet to find it. In the meantime, I’ve submitted four of my short stories once more after giving each a good once over. Some are flash some are standard shorts, and all are delightfully speculative. Hopefully, they will find dear, nurturing homes that accept their absurdity.

And I guess it’s about time I wrote something new, huh?

How do you keep submitting (and submitting and submitting) even when nothing sticks? What motivates you? I’d love to hear your suggestions. Or, you know, you can always yell at me. That works, too.


4 thoughts on “Submitting After Rejection: Keeping Your Work Out There

  1. helo there. ur blog is in my favourites since the day i came across ‘the day the dolphin laughed at me’ and wad captivated by it like many others who commented on that post. the only other post i’ve read frm ur blog is this one, and i’m gonna follow ur blog frm now on. don’t wry i’m not a stalker.

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  2. You’re right, it’s cumulative. I don’t think I’ve ever read it put so succinctly.

    I slow down as the rejections build up. I haven’t stopped entirely yet, but I’m not sure how to speed up again, either. I guess I’ll get another bite from a query and that’ll do it. Or pleasant feedback on something somewhere.

    I’m also occasionally yelled at by good friends, so that helps.

    Sometimes it helps me to remember that even if I knew I’d never get accepted, I wouldn’t submit but I’d also keep writing. I don’t do it just for publication. So… I keep writing. And since no one’s told me I’ll never get accepted, I keep trying.

    My goodness, is that ever not helpful! But that’s my response. 🙂

  3. I keep submitting because writing is my only real career at this point; everything else is just a job to get by until the writing takes off. I don’t suppose that will work for everyone, though.

    One thing that’s been really eye opening is volunteering with The Leading Edge, a student-run journal. As a slushpile reader for that publication, when I saw the poor quality of most of the stuff that’s submitted there, I thought: “Hey! I can write better than this!” So I submitted a story (under a pseudonym, so the editors didn’t know it was mine until I told them), and it got published.

    If there’s some way to see the point of view from the other side, sometimes that can be really motivating just because you see that you can do it. I don’t know how else to do that, short of volunteering for some agent/editor friend to read their slush, but it helped for me.

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