Getting Over Self-Doubt

I think every writer hits this point every once in a while. The point where rejections hurt a little more than they should. All of that positivity you tell yourself like, “Writers get lots of rejections,” and “I just need to keep sending it out,” go on the back burner and you start contemplating a dreaded question: what if I really, truly, suck?

It’s a pity party, I know. I’m completely aware that persistence and practice are the only two ways to be successful in this industry. I know that. But sometimes it’s hard to believe when all you see is rejection after rejection after…

I started writing this post Sunday night. I’d received about six rejections in the past week, on stories I really liked, and was feeling like a big old pile of crap about it. I sent my stories back out because that’s what you do. But I told myself I was said pile of crap and wallowed in some more pity. Because, you know, that’s productive.

But on Monday morning, an acceptance came in. I had to laugh. For all of my crummy mood moments in the prior week, this one acceptance turned it around. I’m a writer, dammit. And no rejection is going to stop me from telling the stories I have to tell.

The moral of the story? Keep writing. Keep submitting. If you give up, that next submission very well could have been an acceptance. And if you give up, you’ll never know.

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.

Fiction Update


I’ve never really blogged about my fiction writing before, specifically the submittal process, so I thought I’d take an opportunity to do that right now. I’ve been submitting stories on and off since around November of 2007, but this has hardly been consistent. I did so pretty regularly up until about June of ’08, then stopped. I burnt out, I guess. But now I’m back at it.

shapeimage_1I realized that my dreams of being a published author can only come true if I make them happen. Sounds simple enough, but often a difficult concept to grasp. To keep me motivated, I’ve decided to blog about the submission process. Here is what I’ve sent out or still have pending since the beginning of the year:

“On the Edge of Sleep” – Doorways Magazine – submitted on June 11, 2008
“Door-to-Door” – Weird Tales – submitted on Jan. 12, 2009
“Reanimated Bodies Don’t Make for Good Conversation” – Three-Lobed Burning Eye – submitted on Jan. 12, 2009
“The Wheelbarrow Man” – GUD Magazine – submitted on Jan. 12, 2009
“The Leak” – Necrotic Tissue – submitted on Jan. 12, 2009 rejected Jan. 26, 2009
“A Noise in the Dark” – Ideomancer – submitted on Jan. 12, 2009 rejected Jan. 30, 2009

As you can see, I sent everything that had been rejected in the past back out for consideration. I don’t intend on letting months go by before resubmitting work this year, however. So, I’ve re-sent a few pieces again:

“The Leak” – Ideomancer – submitted on Jan. 30, 2009 rejected Feb. 5, 2009
“A Noise in the Dark” – Coyote Wild – submitted on Feb. 5, 2009
“The Leak” – Clarkesworld Magazine – submitted on Feb. 5, 2009 rejected Feb. 6, 2009 (ouch!)
“The Leak” – Shock Totem – submitted on Feb. 6, 2009

Okay, so now that I’ve bored you to tears, let me say this. I am not having a whole lot of luck selling anything. Especially “The Leak.” Oh my goodness, the one-day rejection from Clarkesworld A. hurt and B. made me happy that they have such a quick response time. (I realize I’m crazy). I’ve yet to sell a single piece of fiction. But I’m not giving up! I’m excited to get two other stories I’m working on finished so they can be sent out into the world as well.

So that’s it, for now. But 2009 is officially the year Brenda needs to get published. You hear that, Fates? Yes, I’m talking to you!