My writing once won a prize! It was given as part of our Non-Fiction class during my Diploma in Professional Writing and Editing many years ago. Drum roll, please – it was the least-glamorous and most-ironical of prizes – the one for most rejections in one year!
I can’t recall how many rejection letters it took to win the prize (maybe ten?), but the lecturer, Nadine, felt I’d achieved one of the subject’s aims – to send my writing out there and keep trying. I also got a couple of articles published during the year, and a couple more the following year, all from writing produced in that class, so it paid off!
It was an extremely good lesson in one of the main obstacles of most writers’ lives. If you write for others, and want to connect with others, then you need to get your work out there. And unless you put in the extra grunt of building up a blog that attracts readers, you will need to approach other people to publish your writing.
Which means risking rejection. Almost certain rejection. Ouch.
If you’re like so many writers – shy, retiring (ie: living in your own head) and uncertain of your own work – then this will be anathema to your very soul. It’s on a par with the pain of rejection by romantic partners!
But getting lots of rejections can inure you to the pain (almost). And then there are the rejections that come with useful comments – they are like pure gold! It means the rejecter saw enough to make the time and effort to give you a few words on why they thought it didn’t work.
I had written a short story that started as a writing exercise, but I had really grown to love it. So far it’s been rejected by several competitions and magazines. The last magazine took quite a while to reject it, but mentioned that it didn’t quite feel ready, to them.
That convinced me to pay for an editor’s services. I knew the story had moved my friends who’d read it, but something obviously just wasn’t working for the professionals. I’d looked at the story for so long, I could not put my finger on what that was.
Sure enough, the editor came back with some wonderful comments, pointing out several things that could be adjusted. I still had to do the hard work to fix it, of course, but her comments on what DID work confirmed that it was a story worth fighting for.
I wish I could tell you it’s about to be published, but I’m still playing with it – there’s one or two more things to work on first! But I’m excited about its possibilities – and I’m prepared for the next round of rejections. It could even move up the ranks, and at least get a place in a competition, which would get it out there for more people to read.