When I first started submitting my writing about ten years ago, I had neither patience nor a thick skin. It was a recipe for disaster. So I focused on novels and took a four year break from writing short stories and submitting. To be honest, I really didn’t know how to write a short story. I thought I did of course, and was shocked, outraged, that the magazine didn’t accept my work. A few years later, I tried again, with a space opera that was actually a story. I even sent it to the right markets, but that didn’t stop the tears when the rejections came back.
Since then, I’ve made a study of short stories, reading and writing them, figuring out what I like, wrenching skill out of each word I wrote. I’ve had one story published (in a now defunct, rather short lived e-zine), and I was happy. But my stories weren’t very good, so I tried again, thinking I was serious. Compared to where I am now? It was laughable. In all honesty, a beginning writer needs overconfidence or they’d never make it over those early stumbles.
Then I started timing those rejections, getting my hopes up when the rejection didn’t come back, wondering if I’d finally made it past the slush pile. Daydream about publication. I still hope of course, but not at the expense of a writing session. I do till check dates, but once a week, when I confirm my weekly goals.
This week, I received three rejections; 4 for the month; 23 for the year; 51 lifetime short story rejections.
I’ve heard of writers who tape them up, but that gets kind of hairy with email, unless you print everything out. I used to save them in a folder, but it got to be too much trouble to file them, so I made a spreadsheet and track the info there. It’s fun to open it up and scroll through it, and remind myself to get back to revising so I can add more to the list.
Do you have a thick skin and patience, or are you stalking Duotrope on a daily basis? 🙂
That’s the spirit! Overconfidence is essential, even if it’s just to overcome whatever horrible mental defect caused me to write in the first place instead of becoming a steel magnate or something.