10 October 2012

5 rejections in a week. Woo hoo! (Or something.)

Because I have a rather large backlog of work that I think is ready for publication, during my first weekend of self-employment (Sept. 29-30) I decided that I was going to devote Sundays to revising and submitting work, and that I'd submit five pieces each week. True to form (note sarcasm), I submitted five pieces the first Sunday, none last Sunday, and one piece on Monday.

The result: five rejections in the same week! Woo hoo! (Or something.)

On the one hand, it is a truth universally acknowledged that publishing writers have to weather a lot of rejection, so I suppose I could choose to count my rejections as a rite of passage into official writer-hood.

On the other hand, I'm left feeling a little empty and confused, especially since I spent so much time trying to find markets that I thought were really good matches for my pieces. What's more, I actually really like my pieces. Me, the eternal critic!

So what gives? Am I reading something into them that isn't there? Is it a case of my liking them even though they are not that good? Or are they just not resonating with the editors in question? And what does it mean that they were rejected so quickly? (One piece was rejected the same day, another two in four days, another two in nine days.) Is my style too "plain" to appeal to most people? Am I just too weird?

I wish I could say that the rejection emails shed some light on these questions, but alas, they were form letters and included no specific feedback. Just stuff like "we don't feel your piece is right for our publication at this time," or, even less helpful, "we're going to have to pass." Hmph. Fine. I'll pass gas on YOU. Okay, no, not really.

The thing is, I don't know what these rejections are supposed to mean to me. Should they mean, "not a good fit for this market but keep trying"? Or "put it in a drawer for a while"? Or "if you like it that much why don't you self-publish it"?

I've also read about books that went on to become bestsellers that have sometimes been rejected dozens or even a hundred times before they're accepted for publication. This would suggest that it's more about finding an editor who's a good match for the work than it is about the work itself.

Maybe what I need to do is invent a rule for myself. Something like: if the same piece gets rejected five times, put it away for a while. In the meantime, keep writing new stuff. Yes, I like that. Submit each piece five times before putting it on the back burner, and after, say, a year, bring it out again and decide then what to do with it. Hmm. Just realized that will require a filing system. No matter: I can do it!

But on the positive side, one of my creative non-fiction pieces was accepted a couple weeks ago by an online publication. Should be coming out later this week or next, I imagine. (Unfortunately, no beer to celebrate for me this month; it's Octsoberfest.)

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