Saturday, June 20, 2015

Keep writing stories, and keep sending them out

I learned today that has two different form rejections, one a little less form than the other, and that's the one I got today.

Along with the regrets that the short story they read wasn't quite what they were looking for, and luck sending it elsewhere, it includes the line "Please send us more of your work in the future."

I read an interesting article not long ago about the gender split of story submission behavior. It claimed that men, when they receive an encouragement like that, try to follow up as soon as possible (some markets want a gap between your submissions, as a for instance, a week, a month, etc.) and women will sometimes wait up to 6 months, if they submit to that market again at all.

I'm not sure how true it is. I'm not saying it isn't true either. I honestly don't know.

There are a lot of women writers getting published out there. The women who are successful, or becoming successful, could not possibly have been such shrinking violets when it came to submitting their stories. They had to have kept trying, kept sending them out (or been so goddamn brilliant they got published the first time out. I'm sure that happens to some people as well).

And then there's this blog post on The Missouri Review about perseverance (Okay, "stubborn" might get bandied about a bit). I feel like writers who are successful even a little, they persevere. They get the rejection and go "Okay, where can I send this next". Or, "What changes do I need to make so that this becomes a better story?"  I try to do both of these. I've been submitting stories for ten years or so by now and have had one acceptance. It isn't like I'm going to stop writing, so I need to keep being stubborn.

Onwards and upwards, my friends.


  1. I agree, but it's hard to persevere — especially as the submission process is hidden, so writers have little idea of how often other writers submit work. Blogs help make the process more visible, but reading about submissions makes it easy to dismiss the other writer's obstacles as you convince yourself that they are more talented and hardworking than yourself. It's difficult to keep faith in your own work over a long period of time. I struggle to find the confidence to keep submitting; when I read articles like the Missouri Review one, I think of the writers who succeed after years of persevering as better writers than myself. I assume that they must know their work is good and deserves to be published.

    Yet I know this is often not the case -— that other writers struggle with confidence and self-doubt just as much as I do. This forces me to accept that I should keep submitting work and that I'm using my lack of confidence as an excuse not to submit, while it's actually a moot point because the action of submitting is the important part, not how much confidence I have in a story or myself as a writer. I think the trick is to separate the issues of confidence from the practical task of sending a story as much as you can; to have a "let's see what happens" approach so that rejections are just par for the course and acceptances are a fantastic bonus. Trouble is, it's easier said than done!

    1. " I think the trick is to separate the issues of confidence from the practical task of sending a story as much as you can; to have a "let's see what happens" approach so that rejections are just par for the course and acceptances are a fantastic bonus."

      Yesss! And you're right, it is easier said than done! It's work, cultivating any kind of confident "I don't care I'm doing it" attitude and maintaining it, through the submission cycles.

      I recently said that I think of this as "Schrödinger's Submission": once you've said it, it's both a yes and a no, and you don't know 'til it's resolved. Personally, it's my best way of coping with it. I wrote the story, I edited it and tweaked it, and now it's out of my hands with regards to whose pages it gets printed on.

      I do wish the submission process was more open, because that is part of the agony. Where am I in line? Have they responded to others recently? Things like The Submission Grinder help with this, but everything is self reported, so might not be entirely accurate (though what one might gain from lying to an essentially anonymous thing like the Grinder is beyond my understanding). I do like it when markets have a link where you can see where you are in the queue (Fantasy & Science Fiction and Urban Fantasy both do this), but sometimes that's bad too, as you watch your number fall rapidly and sometimes stall out.

  2. Forward motion, baby.

    I'm not going to say I like rejection, but I handle it pretty well, which is amazing because I handle other aspects of life so very poorly.

    If they asked you to submit again, they like your work. You are awesome. Kick it in the ass.

    1. Thanks so much! <3

      I'm definitely going to resubmit! I just need either 1. more finished stories or 2. my other rejections to hurry on back.

      (I do have "finished" stories that aren't "ready to go" stories, but need to write more in general if I'm playing the October game again)