I wrote a short story. It’s a pretty far out fantasy, not what I normally do. Okay, it’s weird. But it’s a story I had to write. Now, where can I possibly place it? I tried a couple of markets that pride themselves on publishing cutting edge or experimental fiction. No luck. This story means a lot to me, so I keep trying. I recently saw another market that looked like a possibility. The guidelines actually add, at the end, “Don’t Reject Yourself.” I would have submitted it anyway, based on the journal’s guidelines, but the fact that they added this phrase gave me the final push to do it.
Right after I sent it off, I got an idea for another essay in response to a new call for submissions from a completely different market. As soon as I had written it in my head, and knowing that market pretty well, I thought, “oh, they’ll never take that.” But then I remembered, “don’t reject yourself.” Perhaps, if written in the right way, it has a chance. So I’ll proceed. If you, like me, have a tendency to pre-judge the response to your work, I encourage you to reconsider. Maybe you’re standing in your own way. Now, this doesn’t mean you submit everything everywhere. You don’t submit light romances to Playboy, or erotica to Woman’s World. You still read and follow guidelines, read sample issues of the market you are considering (they’re almost always available somehow), and make each piece the best it can be. After all, I want any rejections I do get to be for the material alone, not for bad writing. But once those conditions have been met, it’s worth a shot.
BTW, I know writers who have never, ever had this problem. And guess what? They sure seem to get published a lot. Now they may also write more, or have a better niches carved out, or higher profiles, or more developed networks, or more extensive market research. I can work on those aspects, too. But it still seems to me there must be a connection between their success and their skill with the “send” button. Their percentage of rejections might be just as high as mine. But their “sends” are higher overall. They don’t reject themselves. I can only strive to do that less and less in my own writing life.