I’ve said in previous posts that I’m a bit of a number cruncher. But there’s one number that I always avoided crunching: the ratio of my submissions to my rejections. I know without looking that the number is high. It’s bound to be–competition is fierce, and rejection is practically as much a part of the writing process as drafting or revision. I admit that every rejection notice still makes me cringe, each one a sting in the ego I work hard to eschew in the first place, but I’ve gotten used to it. I had a professor once who had a piece a glass embedded in his foot, and it was just a part of who he was, but every now and then it would shift and cut into him in such a way that he’d have to break out a cane and hobble around until he got used to it again. Rejections are like that for me–I don’t like them, and I haven’t figured out a way to make them not hurt, but I understand that some days you just have to limp through until you can accept the pain.
But acceptances? Those I still celebrate the way I celebrated birthdays as a kid, running around the house screaming and hopped up on sugar. Which is why February has so far been a terrific, sugar-high month for me.
Earlier I posted that a friend’s long-running project, Driftless Review, was up and running online, and that my first article for that e-zine was online as well. Then, the very next day, I received word from the literary journal Temenos that they had accepted one of my short-shorts for publication. I was elated, fists pumping and all grins the rest of the evening.
And today, I learned that another literary journal, Forge, has accepted another of my short-shorts. Two in almost a week? I’m over the freaking moon here! I feel like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone, when he first realizes he has the house to himself and he tears through everything in a giddy frenzy, jumping on furniture, screaming with his hands in the air. My poor wife, when she returns from work, isn’t going to know what to do with me.
Yet there’s also a calmer part, somewhere deep inside, the true root of the ego. He’s in there with his arms folded, a calm smile on his face. He says, “See? I told you so.” And even though he’s the part of the ego that’s the most necessary to let go of, he’s also the part I love the most. Because when I sit down to write and wonder if what I’m working on is ever going to be any good, he’s the guy who quells the mob of internal editors, he’s the guy who says, “You can do this, this is good.” So I figure he’s entitled to feel a little smug when a publication proves him right.
While you’re here, go check out the current issues of Temenos and Forge. I submitted to them because they publish good stuff, so they’re worth checking out. Check out Driftless Review, too. I helped found that journal because I believe in their vision and I trust the drive and taste of their guru, Russ Brickey. If you see something you like on any of those sites, let them know. And if you have someone lounging around inside your head saying, “See? You can submit to these guys, too,” do it! Rejections are the reality of writing and publishing, but every acceptance is a reward, and if I deserve rewarding, I bet you do, too.