Tonight I’m feeling inspired by Rose Lemberg’s great essay (originally published as tweets) on perseverance and the editorial process.
Rose talks about the importance of not self-rejecting your work, and of daring to submit, and re-submit to a publication that’s rejected your work before. The whole essay is very much worth a read for any (aspiring or published) writer! Especially if you (like me) suffer from some form of perfectionism and self-doubt.
It was such a huge leap for me to start submitting my poems in 2012. I’ve been writing (both prose and poetry) since forever, and my poetic voice has been getting stronger since 2009, but it took me so long to dare to submit my work. I was really afraid of rejection, of not being “good enough”. And those first rejections really hurt. I hadn’t developed a tougher skin yet; I felt like the magazines I submitted to were rejecting my whole self, all of my writing forever, &c. &c.
As time’s gone by, it’s got easier. I still feel a sting when I get a rejection, especially if it’s been a long time since an acceptance. But I understand better now that rejections a) are just one person’s (editor’s) opinion, b) can happen for any number of reasons, c) do not mean I’m a terrible writer. I’ve learnt to feel happy about personalised rejections, and the ones that actually give a snippet of feedback on my work make me feel good. I try to believe the editors when they say “please submit to us again”.
It’s been harder with stories. Quantity-wise, I produce far less of them than poems, which flow out at a much quicker pace. Story rejections still sting more, and make me doubt my skills (“oh noes I am the WORST AT PLOTTING FOREVER”). But how will those skills develop if I don’t keep writing and submitting? They won’t. So I have to keep trying.
Because after all, my perseverance so far has got me a long way from where I was three years ago. I’ve been published in a lot of amazing magazines – and I still feel giddy when I think that my story is going to be in An Alphabet of Embers. I just have to keep on daring, even when I feel afraid.