By “this” I mean write and submit short stories. I did a quick count the other day, and came up with close to 600 rejections to short story submissions in the past 4 years. For those of you keeping score at home, that breaks down to 150 a year or nearly 1 every 2 1/2 days. Ouch.
Anyone can write. I have to believe as much to survive my day job as a high school English teacher. Some days are harder than others, for my students as well as me. Writing well and developing one’s craft requires patience. Patience requires a healthy dose of perspective. Since I started my writing journey four years ago, I’ve gained as much perspective as any bit of craft. Rejection is part of the game, and I’ve received my share. Each “no” used to sting like a solid punch in the gut, knocking the writing wind out of me.
But I learned from my rejections. Editors would offer bits of advice. Occasionally, when a story was accepted for publication, an editor would work with me and I’d learn little nuggets of craft which I applied to my next story. Through the torturous process of submission, rejection, and revision, I learned to be a better writer. I started submitting to more challenging markets. I saw many more rejection letters. I continued to submit.
Sometimes, one of my stories squeaked through the golden door.
I believe in short stories. I believe they, along with the grueling slog of submission, made me the writer I am today. It might not be the only way to learn your craft, but it’s an honest one.