or, How is “Triskaidekaphobia” not trending on Twitter?
What I didn’t write about was my real resolution: to make and stick to a submission schedule. With only a few rejections under my belt, I needed to amp up my game. I decided to submit to at least 5 literary journals a month, for 12 months.
Literary journals are different than academic journals. Whereas you can only submit an essay to one journal at a time (to give them time to send it to other academics for peer review), most literary journals allow simultaneous submissions. With most literary reviews publishing less than 1% of the submissions they receive, this practice allows writers the flexibility to send their work to a number of journals at once to hopefully speed up the path to publication.
There are a number of submission philosophies. Some writers send out their work in batches of 10, some have a revolving door philosophy (send some out, and keep sending em as the rejections come in). I decided 5 at time was a good number—its manageable, and I like being able to edit my stories as needed.
This goal presented some challenges. I had to grow a thicker skin (especially after I received three rejections in one day). And I had to write more—much more than I thought I could. Overall, the experiment was a success, even if I haven’t received an acceptance yet. One slush pile reader wrote me an encouraging email with suggestions on how to improve my story. I’ve received some upper tier rejection letters, along with dozens of bland “no, thanks.” I’ve revised stories that were getting lackluster responses, and I’ve got a couple “please submit to us again” notes tucked away.
The biggest gain was to my self-confidence. After submitting over and over again to literary journals, I finally decided to send out an essay to an academic journal. It was rejected twice, then received a revise-and-resubmit to a third. In the new year, I’ll work on it and submit it again, with the knowledge that a rejection isn’t personal—it is what it is.
I’ll keep submitting in 2013—but that won’t be my New Year’s Resolution. That’ll come tomorrow…
In the meantime, be safe, be smart. Wear your seat belt and if you drink, crash on your friend’s couch tonight.
Then get up tomorrow and keep writing.