Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back



Ever felt like a total failure? Ready to give up? If you're a writer, I know you have. It goes with the territory. A somewhat overused metaphor is that we writers are on a journey, but it's so appropriate. We travel from that beginning step down a long and winding road that has many roadblocks along the way.

Those roadblocks come in the form of rejections that pop up in our mailbox or inbox. Get enough of them and you might very well feel like a failure. Well guess what? You're not a failure at all.

You should be learning something from each one of those rejections. I know people who get angry and never look at the submission that was rejected. They either file it or toss it. Wait a day or two, then take a good, hard look at that submission. Try to look objectively. Hard to do, I know, when it's your own precious words, but try it. Maybe you'll see something that can be changed. Maybe it still looks like gold to you and you see no reason for the rejection. Some rejections come because the editor couldn't use it at the time, not because it was a bad piece. In a poor economy, this could easily be the case. Editors deal with budgets, advertising sales etc. so are limited in what they can publish. Sometimes, the reason is poor writing. If so, it can be changed.

There are times in our writing life when we seem blessed with acceptances. Might get several in a row. You feel as though you've moved forward on your journey, and then comes that next rejection. Two steps forward, one step back. My friend, Annette Gendler, teaches memoir writing classes. In one of her blog posts, she stated that the average rejection among her writing friends is about 30 rejections for each piece that makes it. You need to work hard to keep yourself from feeling like a failure. You're not alone in the rejection game. You have lots of company.

The important thing here is to keep moving forward, even if you do take a step back now and then.  Just the other day, a reader of this blog contacted me to say that she'd finally had a story accepted. She would soon be published after many tries and many disappointments. I was so happy for her and felt some admiration for her perseverance. She didn't give up; she kept moving along on that path to publication. I hope this is the first of many to come, but she'll most likely hit a few more bumps in the road. I don't think they will deter her now. She'll keep taking those two steps forward with only an occasional step backward. No doubt she's learned a lot along the way. 

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