Writing fiction is for the insane.
If, and only if, you have a slightly kooky brain can you keep writing, sending your work out for publication, have them slugged back on your face, and write again. Most of it for less than a pittance too: it doesn’t earn you back money for the coffee you chug down while writing.
Have had a spree of acceptances lately– starting from the Lunch Ticket, The First Line, and all the way to the Griffith Review. But, looking back on the frequency of submissions– the 20-odd stories I’ve had accepted by journals and anthologies have taken hours of time, and yes, tons of Rejections.
My approach is this:
Writing, and acceptance for publication are two different things. Writing is from a white-hot place of emotion, then pruning from a place of balance. Submitting for publication is just where the process ends– just like cooking ends at the table, and in someone’s stomach. No point getting emotional about it. All that would do is convince you that your short story or novel sucks.
When writing, I write for myself, and one ‘ideal’ reader. When submitting, I look around for who might be hungry for what I’ve cooked on the page. If someone doesn’t want it, I offer it to others, and keep offering it, till at long last, it gets accepted. If a piece gets rejected, I turn around and submit it to others on my list of ‘places to submit.’ If someone rejects a piece, but asks for more, I submit it as soon as their reading period allows.
According to this article, by Kelli Russell Agodon, this method is called submitting ‘like a man.’
When we send a rejection to a man and ask a man to resubmit, he thinks, “They like my work and they want more; I better get it to them soon before they don’t want it anymore.” And the submission is sent. (Right now, there’s that cliche’ line about men “wanting to spread their seed” going through my head.)
When we ask a woman to resubmit she thinks, “When would be the best time to resubmit? I don’t want to seem pushy, but I do want to get them my work. Maybe I should wait a few months so I don’t seem desperate or so I don’t irritate them by submitting so fast. Do they really want to see more work, or were they just being nice? I’m sure they want to see more work, but I should probably wait a few months, I wouldn’t want to be an imposition and it would be better manners and more respectful to wait a bit. Or should I? Yes, I’ll play it cool and wait a few months. I wouldn’t want to impose.”
And then the woman writer waits or forgets or send her submission out a few months to a year later. (The generalization of women over-thinking things is going through my head right now.)
Not a fan of generalizations or gender bias, but must admit I used to think like the ‘woman’ in the above excerpt. Over the years, as I’ve detached ego and emotions from the process of submitting work, I’ve become more like the ‘man’ Kelli Russell mentions.
Maybe there are two ways of thinking on this ‘submission issue’– not necessarily dependent on gender, but quite different, anyway. One is emotional, involved, and the other, straightforward and unemotional.
So, the writers in my audience (and I know there are many) how do you deal with rejection? How soon do you send out a novel or short story after being rejected? Do you submit like a ‘man’ or ‘woman’?