If you have even the smallest ambition to write and to have your writing published (rather than just writing for your own edification, which is perfectly valid as far as I’m concerned), then you have to develop a thick skin. Most, if not all, of what you submit to magazines, competitions, publishers, agents, will be rejected. This can go on for years before you see any change in the familiar process of posting or emailing something, waiting weeks or months (and months … ), and then getting an email reply or your lovingly prepared typescript posted back with the same form letter brush-off. It’s never anything less than frustrating.

I’ve been writing and trying to get work published for more time than I care to remember. I’ve only been successful to a very small degree in that I’ve had a couple of stories printed here, won a competition there, and started getting reviews printed in magazines and journals (and even getting paid for it!). I got another rejection this afternoon from a very small-scale, newly-launched magazine, which, since it launched this year, has knocked me back three times. I didn’t put as much work into the submissions as I could have done, mainly cobbling them together from older pieces; I wouldn’t get paid if a story was accepted; and I doubt it would lead to much in the way of wider exposure if it was. It’s still irritating though. It’s frustrating, and it can’t help but feel than the time I put into writing and editing the thing was wasted, even if I didn’t exactly exert myself.

No time spent writing is ever time wasted though. I don’t keep key phrases or passages or cannibalise old stories for new ones, but the practise of writing hones the craft, no matter if what you’ve written is decent, or a disjointed, rambling mess. Being rejected is annoying, but rather than plunging you into sub-Romantic despondency, it should spur you to further action and force you to write and submit something else, and not to submit something until you’re sure it’s the best you can do. Just not to that particular magazine again though – I think after three rejections they’re trying to tell me something …


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