100 rejections: March update

So when I left you all last, I had done basically nothing for February. Well, I had submitted one thing, but I don’t know what that really counts for. March has been different, with five new submissions.

Warning: this is a rambly post. I’m going to do a more structured one for the lovely folks at BWI.

Tip #1: Get on Submission Grinder immediately.

This has been an interesting process so far. Obviously all of my submissions were made in January or earlier, and over the course of the last four weeks I hadn’t heard back from any of them. I finally got back a few rejections in March, but that was fine because I’d been waiting so long I didn’t have any real expectations of getting in.

Submission Grinder has been a huge game changer for me. No it’s not like that app, rather it’s a site that aggregates submission opportunities with a bunch of really useful information, like whether they’re open for submissions, how long the average response time is and when other people were accepted/rejected (so you can make sure that the whole team hasn’t suffocated in the supply cupboard or something). Seriously, get on it now and go have a play.

Tip #2: Assume all submissions have been rejected immediately and move on.

Look, this is a numbers game, and it’s a numbers game because most of your stuff will be rejected. I don’t know why. It’s just a fact. Don’t sit around waiting to be accepted, planning your celebration and asking your friends to keep the date and rehearsing your acceptance speech (although that one’s fun). Fact is that you’re more likely than not going to be rejected, so just wait for the inevitable and move on. If that feels too bleak for you, start looking for the next place where you could submit it, so that you can keep it in the pipeline until it finds a home.

Tip #3: Writing doesn’t happen in isolation. If you’re feeling uninspired, start reading or leave the house.

I started this project to try and force me (encourage me?) to write more, but so far it hasn’t been particularly successful. Part of that is because I’ve been working more, and because I had uni work to wrap up, but I also think that writing is probably just hard and I need to actively try to get inspired (what wankery). But I went to the Smythesdale Fiesta in February (January?) and wrote a whole poem and a few parts of another after going to the Words Out Loud event there. Any other time? Very little.

Tip #4: Don’t lose your voice as a writer just to try and fit in; find publications who want what you’re doing instead.

Something else I started doing was looking for places to submit previously published work. It seemed a shame to have material that was used once, especially if it was in something like a student magazine with relatively low circulation, that couldn’t be used again. If nothing else, it was a good excuse to dig out things that had worked in the past and remember what I was doing when I wrote them. That’s been helpful when I’ve been struggling with longer pieces of work—going back to something that’s shorter but complete helps remind you of the process. It also helped me remember the kind of stuff that I wanted to write before I was getting marked for it—I now have six years of bad uni behaviour to unlearn.

Tip #5: Respect yourself, and your time. You’re helping these publications by submitting.

I’ll be honest: I’m a little frustrated. We all hear horror stories of disrespectful, argumentative writers who are submitting crap all over the place and making a mess of submissions spreadsheets. But spare a thought for those of us out there who are acting in good faith and following the rules, only to find that publications can’t get their shit together. They can’t read submissions, they can’t communicate with submitters and they probably couldn’t find their arse without both hands and a torch. I know not everyone is like that (and thank goodness for that), but it’s dispiriting to be making efforts to be professional (in discourse even if I can’t manage it in writing quality) and find complete dimwittery and gross incompetence waiting in response. If I wanted that, I’d enrol in university again.

Misc notes:

  • One place that I submitted to in December, then again in February, has still not rejected me for either submission. Looking at their website, they’re not publishing much, so I might hold off on them for now. I’m just going to assume they’re rejected and move on with submitting those pieces elsewhere.
  • The longest outstanding rejection is still waiting from October last year.
  • A piece that I had accepted in September last year STILL hasn’t been published. They said they’d be looking at submissions again in late March but I’m not holding my breath.

Stats as of 31 March:

15 submissions

8 rejections

5 pending

2 accepted (one pending edits).

Final thoughts

I’m miles behind on submissions, and long rejection windows are getting me down. I need to write more (which means writing slightly different stuff) or start mining older stuff that’s already been published and seeing if I can find it a new home. It’s not ideal, but I feel like I’m learning.

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