Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Collecting rejections

One of my favorite blogs is Aeryn Rudel's Rejectomancy. Aeryn is a novelist and short story writer who previously worked as publications manager for Privateer Press, so he has experience on both sides of the editorial desk. He suggests that "[t]he skill of rejectomancy is largely derived from understanding what rejection, in its various forms, actually means, because it’s not all bad. Rejection is a chance to grow, to develop your craft, and to acquire the thick skin you absolutely need if you want to make writing your career."

When I stumbled upon Aeryn's blog several months ago, the first post I read intrigued me so much that I scrolled back to the beginning and read every post. I still read every post and sometimes add my two cents in the comments section.

In the comments section of his August 1 post titled "July 2016 Submission Statement," Jessica Snell mentioned Laura Maylene Walter's Kenyon Review blog post "Doubling the Rejection Goal: How I Received 215 Rejections in 2015," which was a commentary on Kim Liao's post at Literary Hub "Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections This Year," and I found myself shaking my head in bewilderment. Why would anyone seek 215 rejections in a year?

The gist of the argument, followed back through the various blog posts, is that anyone receiving that many rejections must surely receive a few acceptances as well. Proving the theory has some validity, Laura received 12 acceptances in 2015.

215 rejections. 12 acceptances.

Those kind of numbers make me shake my head in bewilderment. If my acceptance to rejection rate was that low, I might just cut off my fingers and stop writing.

In 2015, I received 32 rejections and 42 acceptances.

I don't collect rejections. I collect acceptances.

Rejections are the temporary barriers I must overcome in order to reach my goal. Much like Aeryn, I use rejections to help me grow as a writer, whether it means improving my craft or learning to better target my submissions.

But even though Laura's approach is the antithesis of mine, the conclusion she draws is very much one I learned long ago: "Submit again, submit again, submit again." If you never risk rejection, you will never receive acceptance.


Blackdirge said...

Michael, a big thanks for the shoutout. I agree; rejections are critical learning tools for any writer, though I hope to some day hit a rejection/acceptance ratio even in the same ballpark as yours. ;)

Judy Penz Sheluk, author said...

I discovered that blog a while ago and love it! It's refreshingly honest and so too, is your post. Thanks for sharing.

Bobbi A. Chukran, Author said...

But aren't they talking about literary magazines? I think the odds are much less for some of them since they don't publish nearly as often as some of the genre 'zines and mags do.

I've never thought about cutting off my fingers to quit writing/getting rejections. I'll have to think about that. LOL