Tuesday, February 23, 2010

On rejection

Here's an amusing post on famous writers and the blistering rejections they've seen.

And here's the blog of some guy who's racked up 11,000 rejections (and managed to sell 80-some stories).
I confess that I am both highly flattered and somewhat dumbfounded to
be the subject of such literary interest. I assure you that I don't
think of myself as particularly successful, from a publishing
standpoint, and I have received far more rejections than acceptances.
Since I imagine some of your readers are interested in hard numbers, I
have received approximately 11,100 rejection letters over the past
fifteen years--as well as one phone rejection (from the late,
brilliant George Plimpton at the Paris Review); since I've published
eighty-two stories, that's a decidedly low acceptance to rejection
ratio. I suppose the key to the limted successes that I have had is
perseverence. And a great deal of good old-fashioned dumb luck. And
the reason I keep doing it so simple that it may disappoint some of
your readers: I love writing stories.
I saw a few comments yesterday of the "oh, how inspirational" nature. I don't share this. He says he loves writing stories. Yes, don't we all.

To make a story great, though, you have to be willing to work on it. You don't send it off, still warm and bleeding, from your typewriter, your computer, or from the parchment you've made from your own tender inner thighs.

It's great this guy is writing so much--unless you're an editor who's received 200 submissions from him. I bet his success rate would go up if he chose the best story he'd written and worked on it for a few months, rather than sending an average of three queries a day.

My point, and I do have one, is that you shouldn't send anything out that you haven't polished to the best of your abilities, worked through with critique partners, read aloud, and pondered.

Write as much as you want. But send what's going to help you succeed. 11,000 rejections is a huge waste of time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It boggles my mind to think of how much time this guy must have spent preparing submissions. 11,000 submissions! And I wonder if he kept all those rejections?

Parker P