It happened. I received an acceptance letter for one of my stories.
If you write and try to publish, you might be able to feel what I felt. Validation, happiness, joy, acceptance…
God damn it’s beautiful.
I’ve written on rejection before. Rejection is the hardest part of this whole process. And, unfortunately, trying to do any type of writing means that you will inevitably face a lot of rejection. It stings, it’s mean, and there’s really nothing you can do to avoid it.
I don’t want to victim blame, but in some ways writers are asking for it. It takes a level of over-confidence to lay words on the page and then tell people that they should read it. It’s like any artistic/entertainment medium. If you want to be seen, then you have to have some form of confidence that makes you willing to be seen. You have to, at some point, turn inward and say, “I can do better.”
This position is particularly interesting for writers, because they tend to be introverted/singular-minded people. We’re the violent nerds of the entertainment world. We don’t necessarily want to walk a red carpet and have people take our photos, but we definitely want people to read our shit and fall in love with it. We don’t need universal recognition. We just need the validation of someone telling us they like what we’ve written and want more.
So, acceptance is important. It validates that selfish portion of our brain that demands to be told that we were right, after all. We were better than those that didn’t get accepted and now people should feel privileged to read what we have produced!
That attitude lasted about 6 hours, before I descended into my own prison of self-doubt and bullshit. I started thinking about the magazine where I placed the story. Their acceptance rate isn’t all that low and they produce on online-only mag. They don’t pay (magazines and websites don’t/can’t) and they don’t publish many well-known writers. Basically, they are a good magazine where beginning writers can get published, while still working to hone their craft. But that’s not good enough for my dumb ego.
I got on myself for entering a piece at a market where I had a strong chance of being accepted. I started to convince myself that I was too good for this magazine and that if I want my literary career to blossom, I need to stop publishing in lower-level (not lower quality, online magazines and websites all have good content) markets. Such bullshit.
I really needed to reassess my own madness here. Even when I am accepted, I’m not convinced of my own worth? I need to caveat that shit? C’mon, man. Get it together.
Here’s the truth. I’ve had one other story published. That’s it. And I am, just now, beginning to cut my teeth on the process of writing and publishing. I’m no big name author and I probably have not yet developed the skills to be published in a highly-selective publication. That takes work.
And I’m doing that work. I’m putting down words every day, editing stories, and reading as many books as I can. I am not sitting on my hands. I’m writing. I’m working. And I’m damn well doing the best I can with the circumstances that I have surrounding me. Am I taking the proper steps to be a frequently published and recognized author? I have no fucking idea. No one does. But the closest I can get to my goals is by writing, trying to publish, and reading as much as possible.
So, never qualify your acceptances. Sure, you should try to break into more selective and well-known literary markets. That’s a given. And you can’t keep publishing in the same websites/magazines and expect to grow. That’s also a given. However, you cannot let your own ego drag you down when you’ve received validation.
Fuck, man. I’m happy. I hope people read my story and I hope that I get to continue producing more cool stuff.