Apologies for not having blogged in a while, but I had a busy spell after AWP, followed by a bout of pneumonia at the end of May that knocked me off course for several weeks. But I'm back and getting caught up, and I wanted to put up this post as a little reminder that the life of a writer is not all (or even mostly) readings and acceptance letters and conventions in fabulous locales.
Here is a list of my rejection stats for the last six years. I think there are actually a few more than the number shown in some cases, because I didn't get really hardcore with tracking until about 2013.
2010: 2 acceptances, 10 rejections
2011: 10 rejections
2012: 11 rejections
2013: 4 acceptances, 20 rejections
2014: 12 rejections
2015: 1 acceptance, 33 rejections
and so far for 2016, I'm at 5 acceptances, 15 rejections, with 6 more submissions still waiting for a response, including my first-ever application for a fellowship. Plus anything else I submit this year.
There's a lot of rejection that you have to face in a writing career. A LOT. I don't even write full-time. Plus, I'm counting these rejections by venue, not items submitted. So some of these represent one story rejected by a magazine, while others represent five poems that received a single form rejection letter from a contest. The item numbers are BRUTAL.
Did I think about quitting during that looooong stretch between 2010 and 2013? Yep.
Did I think about it again during 2014 and into 2015? Uh huh.
Am I glad I didn't give up writing? Yes - though with the caveat that, again, this is a career that will ride roughshod over whatever scrap of ego you have. It isn't for everyone. And there is no shame in deciding it isn't for you, or that you're happy to write just for yourself but not submit anywhere. I know several writers who do exactly that, and they are joyful creatures. I am not them. I have a need for misery.
I will point out one other thing, though. The more I submit, the more acceptance letters I receive. Math doesn't lie. It is important to keep sending out those emails and manuscripts, to keep making the attempt. You'll never have what you didn't try to get.
Now, I'm not going back on what I said in the previous paragraph. You're allowed to quit. Just - send one more submission before you do.