Although I’m not getting many acceptances just yet, one thing I take comfort in is that recently, aside from the one acceptance I did get, my rejections are getting altogether more promising. The most recent one, from a well-known pro market, opened itself by praising the strength of the writing–and although they went on to point out what they felt was missing (which is great — my published story likely only got published because I acted on similar comments from another market) in some ways, I still find this rejection more pleasing and confidence-inspiring than the actual acceptance.
Recently, mixed in with a couple of flat rejections, I’ve had two “not right for this market” rejections, and then this one above. What they give me is a small boost, knowing that although I’m not there yet, my writing is at least improving–I’m getting better, even if I still have some ground yet to cover. And I need that now and then, because as time passes, I’ll find myself thinking that maybe my writing is awful–that I’m just sending out trite crap, ideas done to death, and utterly uninspired writing to depress some poor editor. So it’s encouraging to get a few positive words back now and then.
In the end, you’ve got to be a little bit bloody minded about all of this. I racked up over a hundred rejections before my first sale, and I firmly expect to rack up many more. And I’m still too paranoid to even think about sharing my work online for peer review–I shouldn’t be, as I know very good writers who’ve used this technique to excellent ends, and have had a lot of success with publishing the resulting, polished stories to some very good markets. But I can’t quite shake that feeling–so for now, only my close friends, my wife, and the personal feedback and rejections of other markets will provide me with the direction I need. And I appreciate them all, and doubt I would even be where I am (which is borderline nowhere) without the few kind words and pointers they’ve sent me.
I’m growing. And at the end of the day, even if some of these markets never publish me, I expect I’ll find myself owing them at least a small debt of gratitude for how they helped me to do that.