Saturday, February 22, 2014

100 Rejections

A few days ago, I reached my personal goal of 100 rejections. I set this goal a while back as a way to embrace the fear inherent in submitting my work and take the sting out of rejections. I made a rule that all the submissions had to be in good faith, of course, to count towards my total. The 100 rejections represents a number of different pieces of writing, from novels to short stories to poems to picture books, so it's really still a drop in the bucket of what I know I must reach when you play the numbers game. However, I see it as an important milestone. And I plan on celebrating, though I'm not sure how just yet.

As writers, we need to set goals, goals we can control. I can't control what an editor or agent ultimately decides to do with my work, so I don't want to set a goal like "sell this many short stories" or "get an agent by such-and-such date." I CAN control how good the work is, how I decide which pieces to send where, how often I submit, how much I write. I can set a goal like "finish the revisions on this novel by such-and-such date" or "submit this many queries by the end of the year." I figured the only way to reach 100 rejections was to keep submitting, so really my goal was to keep submitting my work. And I did.

I wish I could say that along with these rejections I had some huge and monumental successes. Not yet. On the other hand, I did have some small but notable successes. I sold three short stories. I had a few pieces shortlisted. I had one agent and one publisher  who were incredibly complimentary of my novel. I had several pieces win recognition in contests of one sort or another. All of these kept me going.

Reaching any goal, no matter how silly or small, is a good time to stop and take stock. So, having reached my 100 rejections, I am taking stock. Where do I want to go from here? How do I want to push myself? What is a realistic goal? I know I want to finish the first draft of my dreamscape novel and finish the rewrites on what I'm calling my problem novel. I know I want to continue to create NEW short stories, to improve my "inventory" for submissions. I know I need to get better at the all-important and hated query letter. But what about a goal to push me to keep on submitting and not give up?

If I try for 200 rejections, maybe I'm giving myself too much permission to fail. Perhaps this time, I will set a goal for number of submissions. My 100 rejections represent 127 submissions. Those that weren't rejections and didn't result in an award (honorable mention, 2nd place, semifinalist) or a sale, are ones with no response yet, and perhaps no response ever. So, maybe my new goal will be 250 submissions. That seems like a nice round number. 123 to go.

What are your goals?  How would you celebrate 100 rejections and the determination, tough skin and hard work they represent?


  1. Celebrate with a total pampering at a spa - a way to feel totally "in" your body, to feel the wonder that is the physical machine you get to inhabit for this go 'round. Have them pay special attention to your hands and your scalp - the epicenters of your writing talent and production.

  2. Great idea, Heidi. Though I am tempted to go for a more public, shared and silly celebration.


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