A few months ago, a writer-ly friend posted this link to Facebook: 100 rejections in a year. I had just received an email rejection that morning, following on a streak of several form rejections, and I was gearing up to stomp around the house in a stroppy funk for a few days. But, reading that advice – to set rejection goals for a year – jolted me out of my habitual bad mood, and got me thinking instead.
Why not aim for rejection? Play the odds by submitting more and more often, and weather the rejections when they come with a gleeful malice – yay! One more closer to my goal! Because I’ve done that before – played the odds with multiple submissions – and got somewhere with it. (Dark Doors wouldn’t have existed if I hadn’t done that. Orthros: A Night of Aconite Prose wouldn’t have seen the light of day if I hadn’t done that, which means I would have missed out on performing many times with Steve Toase over the past year.) So, I decided to try it again, and submit more stories to more places, and apply for things that I would normally discount because my application won’t be good enough to be accepted. (I’ll let those who are paid to reject/accept me do the rejecting/accepting; that way I’m not doing their job for them! Make ’em work for their money!)
Within one week, I had managed to double my rejections from the previous five months. Giving the stories a rest for a couple of days, I sent off two applications – one for free online writing courses, another for an actual grant for real-life money – within a couple of days of flying back to Canada, because I just knew that I would be too knackered to do it in time after I returned.
To date, I’m at 16 rejections, most of which have happened in the last few weeks. Sometimes, the rejections are soul-destroying; sometimes, merely a distraction. But more often these days, my response to rejections are: Right. Where shall I send this story next? What should I submit to them next?
Time to scour and scowl at my spreadsheet of submissions and send out the next bunch for future rejections. And before anyone shouts at me for being all negativity and storm-cloud-auraed… with every future rejection, there is always the possibility that it might transform into the next acceptance. (Schroedinger’s Story: the story is in a state of acceptance/rejection until the email is opened.)
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m waiting for my finest rejection* this week. The BBC will be announcing the shortlist for the National Short Story Award 2016 on Friday 16 September on Radio 4 at 7:15pm. I’m absolutely positive that this rejection will be spectacular!
*(And really, this one alone should count for five rejections in total.)