Common, and good, writing advice often takes the form of setting a goal: a reasonable goal, that is. For example, I could set a goal that I'll get published in 2018, but since I'm currently unagented and still a few drafts away from querying, that goal is not just outlandish, it's also out of my control.
A more reasonable goal would have been: query the book by the end of 2018. That's something that I can manage, something that is within my power, and something that's necessary, because I'll need an agent in order to get traditionally published, which of course is the dream.
This year I'm aiming for a somewhat lofty goal: I'm aiming for 100 rejections. If you want to know the reasoning for that goal, I'd urge you to check out the piece by Kim Liao that, as far as my internet digging can discern, laid out the original goal.
Great, now that you've read her wonderful piece and know the background, I'll explain my process for this goal.
So far, I'm really not doing a great job of meeting it.
We're two full months into 2018, and I've only garnered three rejections! I've had personal essays rejected from Racked, Seventeen.com, and Electric Literature. So, as far as places that are rejecting me, I'm pretty comfortable with these three; they're all outlets where I would love to publish, and a rejection from them merely means that I'm aiming high enough.
It's the number of rejections that bothers me. Three, just three!
It's low because, to be honest, I haven't pitched that many things this year. Oh, in the beginning of January, I had the most lofty of ideas! I was going to go on a submitting rampage, sending out a barrage of poems, essays and queries that would overwhelm the literary world. Sure, most of them would be rejected. But you learn something with every rejection: you learn that maybe this piece isn't ready yet, or that maybe you should have sent it to someone who's more suited for it, or that whoops, that publication is closed to unsolicited pitches!
Each rejection adds to your knowledge of the field of publishing. More importantly, if you submit high quality material and it's rejected because it just doesn't fit, or the publication doesn't quite have the room for it, but the editors still like your work, they'll invite you to pitch again. They know your name by now. They remember you as that writer who does good stuff, yes, and maybe, if the stars all align and smile down upon you, there will come a day when they need to assign a specific piece and they reach out to you.
Honestly, I have a great excuse for having fallen so far behind on my rejection goal this year. I've not been well for much of the year, and that's made it hard to make progress on my writing. But! I'm re-committing to my goal! To submit, to query, to pitch...to send out a flurry of words and hope for some to land, but to rejoice in the ones that don't because, hey, they're just adding to my goal!
I'm going to check in with y'all monthly, with an update on what I've submitted and how many new rejections I've garnered. Hopefully, my journey will inspire and encourage you to send your words out as well!