Wednesday, March 27, 2013
The nays have it
Since January 17, 2011, I have sent out my stories ninety-eight times. I have gotten a "yes" six times. I have withdrawn stories (because they were accepted elsewhere) three times. That adds up to eighty-nine rejections.
In a normal week, I get one or maybe two, but last week I got five of them. One of the rejections was for a story that I really thought would be accepted by a magazine that I really want to be in. I was feeling pretty low.
In our writing group last night, I shared my frustration. Our teacher was already planning to talk about revision with us. I've heard it again and again: A writer must be good at revision. A writer must LOVE revision. But I have a deep dark un-writerly secret: I'm just not that into it.
I have a fertile imagination (confirmed by my teacher last night) and write story after story. I have talent, I think, and a rudimentary understanding of the craft of writing. I could learn more, no doubt about it. But every time I look at the stack of stories that I have waiting to be turned into something wonderful, I turn away.
Every writer says at one time or another, "Why the heck am I doing this?" And I said that last week. Why am I wasting time putting these stories on paper if nobody will accept them? But that is not the question. The question is why am I birthing these stories and not nurturing them until they're grown?
When I get a rejection, even if it's an automatically generated email, I always write back, saying thanks, re-affirming that I have confidence in my story and will submit it elsewhere, letting them know that I will submit to them again too. I do believe in my writing, in the stories that bubble up and beg to be written.
So I'm going to make a commitment to revision. I'm going to take each story and groom it until it's the best that it can be. I'm going to start reading more books about the craft. I'm going to deepen my characters and spruce up the landscapes. I'm going to study subtext so there are more layers to my plots and people.
Otherwise? What the heck am I writing for?