Looking for a guaranteed, no-fail, absolutely foolproof way to trash your writing career? Here’s the easiest way I know:
Never submit your work for publication.
If you never put your stories and novels in the mail (or, these days, in the email), I can guarantee you that they’ll never be published.
OK. I know how obvious that sounds. But I also know more than a few people who have trashed their careers in just this way.
Some of them never do the final polishing of the work so they can submit it. Others just keep revising and revising the same story or novel. But the ones who really bug me are the ones who send a story out one time to one editor, get a rejection, and decide that the story must not be good enough and never send it out again.
Rejection sucks, no question. But the proper response to a rejection letter is to yell “the editor is an idiot,” crumple up the letter, and toss it in the wastebasket. (Now that most of my rejections come via email, I find I miss the crumpling of the actual paper; hitting delete is not nearly as therapeutic.) And then, of course, you send the damn thing out to somebody else.
If I hadn’t continued sending out stories in the face of multiple rejections, I wouldn’t have any career at all. I’ve sold a few pieces the first place I sent them, true, but I’ve also made some of my best sales after a dozen rejections.
When I mentioned that I was going to write about people who don’t submit, Steven Piziks told me his reaction to those folks: “‘Oh good–I won’t have to compete with you. All the more contracts for me.”
That’s probably the right attitude.
But the damn thing is, the people I know who don’t submit their work are really good writers. Near as I can tell, bad writers don’t have this problem. Maybe the same ego that makes bad writers ignore any advice about their work also makes them impervious to rejection.
It’s just such a waste for good fiction to languish on a hard drive somewhere, eventually being lost when the writer gets rid of that computer and neglects to save all the old files.
What’s the point of writing a story nobody ever gets to read?
Nancy Jane has stories in both of the anthologies recently published by Book View Press: “The Savage and the Monster” in The Shadow Conspiracy and “Blindsided by Venus in the House of Mars” in Rocket Boy and the Geek Girls.
Her collection Conscientious Inconsistencies is available from PS Publishing and her novella Changeling can be ordered from Aqueduct Press. All fifty of the short-short stories she posted as part of her year-long Flash Fiction Project are available for free here.