A Writer’s Self-Esteem
When ego gets in the way.
My very first short story sent out received rejection after rejection. I always had faith in my writing and kept producing new pieces. Eventually, I sent out all of my stories, but they received rejections as well. I was crushed.
I began to feel that as a writer, I must not be writing anything that anyone wanted to read or know about. Maybe my writing wasn’t entertaining enough. I convinced myself that I wasn’t knowledgeable enough to have anything worth writing about to say to the world. Deflated, I set my stories aside.
After months of not writing, but still feeling the urge to do so, I received one of my SASEs in the mail. I thought sure I had already received as many as anyone cared to return.
To my surprise, the hand-written message on my cover letter, being returned, read:
“I’m sure this will fit into the issue we’re planning for next June. How does $20 for 1st Rights sound to you?”
The Senior Editor of that magazine sent a personally written note! I was stunned that my story fit in one of their planned issues. You bet I agreed. The next June was over seven months away, but that little note told me so much and plumped up my writer’s ego once again.
The story that had garnered the most rejections happened to fit into their future. So it wasn’t really a matter of whether or not my story was good enough. It simply had to fit somewhere.
I began to write again and the flood of pent up stories poured out.
I mailed them all. Christmas was quickly arriving, but I sent out a Christmas story anyway, knowing it would be too late to make it into any magazine in the next three weeks. My writing was good and I just wanted people to know it. At that point, I would have sent anything out.
To my surprise, in the second week of January of the New Year, I got a note back saying a magazine accepted it, saying:
“Thank you so much for submitting this piece far enough in advance. We’re working on this year’s Christmas issue now and would like to have it. Christmas is almost a full year away. Would you be willing to sign an agreement giving us FNASR anyway?”
Timing is everything. Not timing as in getting the stories submitted fast, but getting them sent at a time when a magazine can use them.
When I think about how my self-esteem felt squashed by rejection, how egoistic! It had nothing to do with my ego. Acceptance is about writing the kinds of stories that various magazines can use. It is about getting our stories into the right hands. Of course, the stories must be the best that we could produce, but the rejection itself is never meant to tear down faith in our abilities.
Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre.