March 1, 2011

50 Rejections and Counting

On 3/18/2009 I submitted a story called “As I Shall at Death” to Flash Fiction Online. It was rejected, and that rejection was psychologically hard.

Now, nearly two years later, I am around 50 rejections and counting for a total of 15 stories. I am not completely sure of that number, I have a spreadsheet that I track stories and markets on and track rejections and acceptances. The numbers on the two pages of the spreadsheet don’t agree (one is 47 and one is 51). And I don’t care that the numbers don’t match. And that is telling.

The first rejection (and the one above wasn’t exactly my first, but the first of this round of writing) was tough and, irrationally, made me wonder what the hell I was doing. The 10th rejection was hard, but doable. By the time I got past 20 rejections it stopped being a big deal. It can still be tough, but most of the time it is not.

I still hope that these stories find a good home, but it has become less personal. I sometimes feel bad for the story, not myself, when the rejection comes. I like these stories (most of the time) and I want them to succeed; I’m rooting for them.

At 50 rejections and counting, my reaction is now: OK, where else can I send this story, and what can I send to the market that just sent a rejection? The rejections transform slowly from something terrible to a sign of life. If I am getting rejections, it means I am writing and submitting. The regular rejections are now the thump-thump of my writer’s heart.

So bring it on, reject away! I am going to keep writing and keep submitting whether you reject them or not.

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Robert J. McCarter

Robert J. McCarter is the author of more than ten novels and over a hundred short stories...... learn more

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