Posts Tagged ‘Editing’

Submission, Rejection, and Success

May 4, 2012 19 comments
Letter from Farnsworth Wright, editor of Weird...

Letter from Farnsworth Wright, editor of Weird Tales, to Robert E. Howard, rejecting the first three Conan the Barbarian stories, although suggesting a re-write for one of them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Writers live and prosper by sending material out to publishers, magazines—print and online—and freelancing. Anyone who’s spent time around a writer picks up that working reality.

After April’s writing challenges wound down on the 30th, May was ushered in with a group challenge to submit at least one poem, story, article, etc. each day for the month of May. Many of us groaned at the thought of such a challenge. Others took the reins in their teeth and charged ahead like their hair was on fire.

I’m one of those on fire. My reasons may be a bit different than some, especially those who submit on a regular basis. I’ve been trying to get one piece out each week for several months.

Suddenly I’ve been dared to find something, create something, modify something and get it out before bedtime each day. Finally, a serious dare that will help me create a habit that’s beneficial to my future.

In the first three days, I sent out one story and two packets of poems. I haven’t worked on today’s material yet, though I’ve decided what it will be. The story is ready and the market selected.

In the past three days, the story was rejected, as was one of the packets of poems. **Some editors are really quick. **

Not to be discouraged, I keep sending things out. Why? Because that’s what writers do; we send out our work until somebody buys it.

I read an article a few weeks back about rejection slips. The author talked about enjoying each one as it arrived; using it as wallpaper around one’s desk; and knowing, each time he glimpsed it, that he’d come that much further in the writing game.

I’ve thought about that philosophy this week as my inbox gathers virtual pink slips, and I’ve decided that he’s right. Without sending my work to publishers and magazines, I can’t count myself as a writer. Each time I receive that little rejection, it’s a signal that I’ve gained more confidence in my abilities.

It’s a flag of honor, knowing that someone read what I sent. The editor may or may not have sent a personal note with the rejection—I had that personal note on the story, and a form rejection on the poetry, so I’m batting 500, which is great. I can see each rejection as a success in its own right.

I’d submitted something to someone. It had been read and understood. It may not have fit the editor’s needs at that moment, but I’d succeeded in taking the risk.

In the case of the story, the editor told me how much he enjoyed my writing and would like to see more of it. Guess who’s getting my next effort. That editor’s note was definitely a successful rejection.

When using that philosophy each day, I’ve had one success so far that first day, albeit a small one for some, but a big one for me.

I wrote. I submitted each day. And I went back for more.

I’ve now established a minor relationship with an editor who likes how I write. I know what he wants now and that I can fill that need. If I hadn’t sent a piece that was rejected, I wouldn’t have that connection now. It doesn’t mean that I can slide or coast. It means I get a good shot at acceptance in a paying market.

This habit of daily marketing will take the month to establish. I don’t mind the wait. The time allows me to rework my editorial calendar, polish old pieces that need airing, and generally learn and practice more of my craft. That is the best success of all.