Tiffany Moore’s Lover Dreamer Imaginator had a really inspirational blog post earlier this year. One of her goals for the year is to accumulate 100 rejections. That’s basically sending out two things a week: pitching columns to big magazines, writing guest posts for other people’s blogs, applying for grants, or merely speaking up, volunteering her words and her expertise.
Of course, the goal isn’t really to be rejected 100 times. What she really wants is to put herself out there 100 times, take some chances, push herself to try things she would normally fear. When she began, she couldn't even think of 100 places to send her work.
She found out really quickly that having the courage to speak up, to volunteer, to send things out got her closer to her real goal: being published. Getting noticed.
I find the whole idea of pursuing rejection really liberating. For several years now, my goal has been to send out five things a month. That works out to a total of 60 attempts in a year. Usually my fail rate is alarmingly high and I lose courage and abandon the goal halfway through the year. Or equally problematic, I place things quicker than I can write more and once again I lose my nerve and allow myself get distracted.
However, the idea of pursuing rejection for its own sake -- not to be disappointed by all the “the writing is strong, but the idea doesn’t work for us” or “this made it to the final round” or “please try us again” after they’ve seen three stories in a row, but to count the rejections as badges -- that seems like a strong incentive to me.
Among the stuff I've submitted so far this year, I have two novels and a book of essays out for consideration. I have another book of essays about ready to publish myself. I think I have a publisher who’ll consider another. Once something sells, I will start writing something new. I'm looking forward to that.
Even with the books out now, I’m a little off my submission count already. I’ve only submitted 17 times this year so far. It should be 20, since April is over. In 2012, I’ve seen four things published, but two of those were submitted last year. I’ve had one piece held, but it was submitted and accepted in 2008. I just wrote to make sure the publisher hadn't changed her mind. I’ve only collected 5 rejections.
5 rejections, 2 publications, and 1 piece held out of 17 attempts: that’s not a bad place to be at the end of the first quarter of the year. Still, I know I can do better.
Here's the link to Tiffany's blog post: http://www.tiffanymoore.net/blog/2012/1/17/100-rejection-letters.html
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