As many times as I’ve told non-writers what it’s like to do this with any kind of aspirations for success, I keep coming back to the same phrase: “Writing is a bipolar profession.” When you sell something, you’re ecstatic and are on top of the world (even if you don’t get any money–doesn’t matter). When you get rejected (which is often), you feel like roadkill. There’s really no other way to describe it. I know I’ve read about some writers who can send in tons of stories and claim they don’t feel disappointed when they get that polite little “Thanks, but no thanks” note after a few days or a few months. It makes me wonder if they are at all invested in the stuff they write. I’m not saying they should think their stories are the best in the whole world, but when you send something out that you really like, doesn’t it hurt when someone says it’s no good, or, no good for them? One place, sure, you can shrug that off as just a “bad fit,” but more than three times on one story? More?
There was one professor out at UH that could say he had one story that had been rejected 63 or some odd times. At what point do you have to ask “Is the story just bad?” I’m starting to think that I lack that desperately important skill authors are supposed to have: a fail-proof shit detector. What if I just can’t tell if something I write is good or not? What if my detector is all messed up, like when you take a test and think you did well, only to get back the discouraging C-? How do you compensate for that? Is it possible?
I guess this is why you have to write for yourself as though no one else mattered. At least that way you’ll be writing stuff you like, even if everyone else thinks it sucks.
And I guess you just have to keep going. Keep subbing. Keep taking the punches. Keep telling yourself that you don’t completely suck, no matter what everyone else seems to think. They say success in writing is largely perseverance.
Uphill battle, all the way.
Well, you know what? Bring it.