Five. That number might not mean anything to you, but to me it represents so much. What exactly it represents has changed for me many times. First that number represents the number of times that my work has been rejected. Which means, it is the number of times I failed. The stories I worked so hard on and spent so much time crafting and laboring over… I did all of that just to receive emails that looked like this:
“Thank you for sending your story “Enter Title Here” and we thank you for your interest in our literary magazine… Due to the large number of submissions… we read through many and we are sorry to say that we are not able to use yours at this time….We wish you luck in all your writing projects.”
Of course they are much more professional than that. That was just off the top of my head!
Recently, I sent a manuscript to a litmag I really like and when I got my rejection email….that’s right, you guessed it. I cried. Who cares if i’m an adult…it really hurt me! I knew before I sent my work out that I was going to get rejected many, MANY times. But I didn’t realize it would feel so crappy. I thought I knew what I was signing up for when I decided I wanted to become a writer, but until it actually happens, you can never really be prepared for the sting that comes with getting your work rejected. Rejection. The word looks ugly and it tastes bitter. But its something all of us writers and artists will have to learn to deal with at some point.
I stopped sending my work out to litmags. Its only temporary until I can freshen up my work and let my wounds heal. Part of that healing process is not being hard on myself. From now on, every time my work gets rejected, I write the number down where I can see it.
Five isn’t the number of times I failed. It is simply the number of times that I tried. I wanted something and I went for it! It also represents the number of times I allowed myself to share my work with someone else. Which is something that is hard because my writing is very personal to me. And even though an editor hasn’t published my work yet, that doesn’t mean that my work sucks or that my ideas are bad. (Well, maybe that’s what it means 😉 It also means I have another chance to try again. And I will continue to try until I get to where I want to be. Getting published is something that I really desire, so my only option is to continue doing what I love.
I recently read something about getting rejected. When it happens, immediately send that manuscript to another magazine. I thought that was so great and empowering! What a way to take control of your writing career! Just because a few say “no”, doesn’t mean that’s the end. There are plenty of other publishers out there and you just have to find the right one for your story. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway!
For those of you who have not submitted your writing yet, what’s stopping you? When do you think you’ll be ready to take that step?
Her grey hair was pulled up into a tight bun. Her clothes were nice and neat and she wore thick black glasses that sat on the tip of her skinny nose. Her presence was that of a teacher you once feared or a deceased grandparent you respected. I watched her reading my story and knew exactly what she was going to say. When she was finished, she threw it at me. The pages slapped me in the face and some fluttered around my desk. In a very loud, intimidating voice she yelled,
“This isn’t good enough! No one is going to want to read that. That doesn’t even make sense!”
I’m talking about her. My inner editor. When she isn’t yelling at me for creating work that no one is interested in, she’s busy telling me how my ideas are stupid or that I might offend someone if I write a certain thing.
Well this weekend, I decided to shut my inner editor up. This weekend all I did was write. I wrote exactly what I wanted to write and didn’t care if it was publishable or not. I just wrote because I love writing. I allowed myself to get lost in the world I was creating and enjoyed spending an entire day playing with my characters.
At the beginning of the year my personal goal was to send out a certain amount of stories each month to literary magazines, hoping that I would be published in one of them. Since I had the mindset to produce work to send out, I got lost in the process and my writing suffered because of it. Writing felt like a job instead of a hobby. I dreaded editing my stories because I wasn’t in love with them, they weren’t special to me. They were shallow pieces I quickly put together in order to make the literary magazine deadlines. So this weekend, I decided it was time I wrote for myself again.
I’ve heard that when you write, you should do it with someone in mind, for a certain audience. The audience I often picture never likes what I have to say. What I write is never good enough. On Saturday, my only audience was me. Just me and my imagination, writing whatever the heck I wanted and getting lost in it. And you know what? Its the most fun I’ve had with writing in a while! I’ve been writing for fun since I was 7 years old but I’ve been writing seriously for only a couple months. Its amazing how the desire for perfection overwhelmed me and chocked my creativity so much! I went back to that 7 year old me and just wrote for the fun of it. And have decided that is how I am always going to approach my writing. Write just because its fun. Write something because you would enjoy reading it. Write without boundaries.
I just wanted to share a website that has really been a blessing in my life. It’s called “Scribophile” and the purpose of this website is for manuscript critiques. Since I’ve been sending out my work to magazines recently, it helps to have someone read it and tell me what I could improve on. And since I haven’t been able to find a writing group that is close to where I live, this is the next best thing!
The other writers on the site are really friendly and they truly do give great feedback on your writing. Here’s how it works:
- In order to be able to post your own manuscript, you need “karma points”. The longer the critique you give others, the more points you will earn! (and from my experience, critiquing other writers’ work helps to improve my editing skills and makes me feel like a cool English teacher 😉
- Next, you spend your “karma points” to post your own work. You are guaranteed to get 3 long critiques, but most writers earn more, which is great!
I’ve been active on the site for only two months but already my short story has 7 helpful critiques. And I’m proud to say that it has really helped me feel more confident about how others respond to my work before I sent it to publishers.
Now the sad part…I use the free version which lets you post up to two works at a time. But they also have a paid version where you can post as many stories as you’d like. The free version works for me because I’m cheap and I’m a slow writer so I won’t have more than two manuscripts ready for others to read anyway. So please check it out! And if you do, feel free to add me: http://www.scribophile.com/authors/toria-jean/
And that’s it! The site also has groups you can join as well as advice on poetry, writing and publishing tips.
Happy writing and happy creating!